India is hopeful of finding a solution soon to the concerns of tech firms regarding a possible clamp down on work visa programmes such as H-1B by the US administration, information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Friday.
“We are working closely with the external affairs ministry to make them aware of the problems highlighted (by tech firms) so that the external affairs ministry can in turn highlight the same with their counterparts in the US,” Prasad told a news conference.
India’s IT industry, he noted, plays a key role in the US as it has paid nearly $20 billion in taxes in the US and created more than 400,000 employment opportunities in America while providing high quality services Fortune 500 companies.
“Hence, it can be expected the problems will be resolved soon,” Prasad said.
His remarks came a day after commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman met top government officials, including the secretaries of external affairs, finance, telecommunication, electronics and IT and commerce, and industry representatives to discuss the possible tightening of the US visa regime
Following the meeting with Sitharaman, Nasscom president R Chandrasekhar said: “We had an interaction with the minister and exchanged views on rising trend of protectionism and anti-globalisation, and the perspective of the industry.”
Prasad said Nasscom had also conveyed the concerns of the IT industry to his ministry.
Sitharaman earlier said India is closely monitoring developments and is constantly in touch with US authorities.
Nasscom plans to send a delegation of senior executives to Washington later this month to reach out to the Trump administration and lawmakers about its concerns on a possible tightening of the visa regime and curbs on the flow of skilled manpower.
The delegation will inform the new US administration on direct jobs being created by Indian IT companies in America and the contribution of Indian firms in making the US economy competitive.
The proposed overhaul of the popular H-1B visas by President Donald Trump has caused jitters among Indian firms, as any changes in the regime would result in higher operational costs and shortage of skilled workers for the $110-billion Indian outsourcing industry.
India’s IT sector contributes 9.3% to the GDP and the US accounts for nearly 62 % of its exports.
A bill was recently tabled in the US House of Representatives, proposing amendments to the H-1B visa regime, including doubling of minimum salary of holders of such visas to $130,000. The current minimum H-1B wage of $60,000 was fixed in 1989.
The new US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is considered an immigration hawk and a strident critic of the H-1B visa programme. As a senator, Sessions introduced a bill to make it prohibitively expensive for American employers to bring foreign workers under the H-1B programme by proposing a high wage ceiling. He also co-sponsored a legislation that sought to cut the annual cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 50,000.