H1B visa: India begins dialogue with US lawmakers

Posted On Wednesday, 22 February 2017 07:32


The Indian software services companies will breathe a sigh of relief as the Indian ministries, authorities and industry lobby had a dialogue with a visiting eight-member US delegation headed by Congressman Bob GoodLatte, on the ongoing concerns of H1-B visa holders. After the meeting with IT minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, GoodLatte, the chairman of house judiciary committee that plays an important role in drawing policies around immigration and intellectual property, said, that it was up to President Donald Trump to reassess the situation on the immigration policy.

To put things in perspective, the Trump government has started a clampdown on H1-B visa holders, who he believes take away American jobs. The Indian IT industry has thrived over the “offshore” business model.

America accounts for 65% of $155 billion Indian IT revenue.

However, according to a senior government official who had knowledge of the meeting said that things looked positive. “US-India has a good relationship historically. India and US compliments and supplements each other in several areas especially with Indian talent adding value to US firms and the biggest examples are Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai,” he said.

The source, who is highly placed in the government, added that nearly 75% of all Fortune-500 companies are serviced by Indian IT firms, and that some of the top IT firms doing business in India, are of American origin, such as Cisco, Google and Amazon. Meanwhile, Nirmala Sitharaman, minister of commerce and industry said that “the issue” had been discussed in details with the US Congressmen. “Business always flourishes in an environment of certainty and transparency. So even this visa related issue is an issue on which we would want to have an air of certainty and also transparency,” she told reporters on Tuesday. Sitharaman added that the US Congress is waiting for the new administration to settle down, and once that happens, the Congressmen will play an important role in the coming out with the rules.

Indian IT sector, contributes 9.3% to the country’s GDP, and employs of 3.7 million people. The uncertainty has led to drop in value, and fall in employment. The US has introduced the Lofgren Bill, which proposes the minimum wages being doubled to $130,000. The current H1-B minimum wage of $60,000 was fixed in 1989. However, most H1-B visa holders get an average of $1,00,000, according to consultancy firm, Greyhound Research. The government source added, “The Indian government has asked the visiting US lawmakers to keep the Indian IT firms’ contribution in mind while the new government is reassessing its policy on immigration.” To hold further discussions in the matter, a Nasscom delegation from India, will visit the US for a week-long trip.

News source: Hindustan Times

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