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Commerce ministry to meet IT representatives over H-1B visa issue

india Updated: Feb 08, 2017 16:19 IST
Sanjeev K Ahuja
H1B visa

In this Jan. 11, 2013 file photo, Infosys Technologies employees move through the headquarters during a break in Bangalore, India. (AP Photo)

Commerce ministry officials will meet representatives of information technology (IT) industry and NASSCOM to chart out ways to deal with the changes proposed by the US to its law pertaining to H1B visa.

“As soon as Parliament session is over, that is after February 9, we will be meeting (representatives of) Nasscom and industries that have significant presence in US,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

“We will be talking to them to know what are they are working out in this environment, what are their strategies, what the government is doing. We are going to have a clear exchange and discussion with them. After this, I will have clear picture of what industry is planning,” she said.

A bill was recently tabled in the US House of Representatives, proposing amendments to the H1B visa, which include doubling of minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $130,000, sending jitters to Indian IT industry who fear large scale job losses.

While conceding that the legislation, if it becomes law, will impact India, Sitharaman said there was a long way to go before it could hurt Indian interests.

“There are several nuances to it. It is not just one call. It’s a call that is possibly going to happen through executive order,” she said, adding that the major decision would be when the Congress approves the bill.

She said her ministry was closely monitoring the developments and was in touch with the embassy in US, along with the ministry of external affairs.

“In the meanwhile also, I will be talking to MoEF and understanding on how to take a call on this issue,” she said.

On the other hand, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is divided on whether the H1B visa issue would impact it or not. India has about 12 lakh employees working with BPOs.

Raman Roy, founder of Quatrro and one of the pioneers of BPO industry in India, said the sector would not have an impact as it does off-shore jobs, not on-shore, whereas others like Deepak Kapoor, an industry veteran and BPO consultant, said that the big blow was in the making for this industry.

“US president Donald Trump is all set to follow the suit and may announce formally to put a tab on outsourcing jobs to other countries including India. It’s primarily the IT industry that is going to be impacted,” Kapoor had said last week.