India lobbies Trump administration to
avert visa threat
Send a link to a friend
[February 24, 2017]
By Manoj Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Singh
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has stepped up
its lobbying effort against moves in the U. S. Congress to impose curbs
on visas for skilled workers that threaten the South Asian nation's tech
sector, which employs more than 3.5 million people.
Speaking to Reuters, Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said New Delhi
had reached out to the administration of President Donald Trump to
stress the importance of India's $150-billion IT services industry to
"India's investments in the United States have provided jobs to U.S.
citizens," she said in an interview. "That has to be brought to the
notice of the U.S. administration."
The comments come days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged
Washington to keep an open mind on admitting skilled Indian workers.
Indian software companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd
and Wipro Ltd shot to prominence in the 1990s by helping Western firms
stamp out the "Y2K" bug.
Trump's "America First" rhetoric on jobs, however, has put their biggest
market under threat.
A bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress last month to more than
double the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders, which could
significantly boost costs for IT companies, whose margins are already
New Delhi has backed a move by NASSCOM, India's high-tech industry
association, to lobby U.S. lawmakers and companies to urge the
administration not to crack down on allowing its skilled workers into
the United States.
A NASSCOM delegation is now in the United States to make its case to
officials on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
"We will have to engage with the new administration," Sitharaman said.
"Our engagement at every level is intact and continuing."
[to top of second column]
Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry of
India attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in
Davos, Switzerland January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich -
The United States is India's biggest trading partner, but trade in
goods between the two countries has been stagnant, at around $67
billion, for the last three years. Indian software exports to the
U.S. rose more than 10 percent, to $37 billion, in the last fiscal
year from a year earlier.
Indian nationals are by far the largest group of recipients of the
65,000 H-1B visas issued annually to new applicants under a cap
mandated by Congress. More than 60 percent of the U.S. employees of
Infosys hold H-1B visas.
A global pact on services trade would go a long way towards settling
disputes over professional visas, Sitharaman said.
"If only there is a framework...you will know how movement can
happen and how certain restrictions can or cannot come," she said.
"It's time for countries to sit together and look at it."
(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.