India has told the US that temporary relocation of knowledge professionals must not be treated as an immigration issue.
Finance minister P Chidambaram raised the issue with his US counterpart treasury secretary Jack Lew on the sidelines of the spring meetings of the World Ban group on Friday.
Referring to the immigration bill put together by the gang of eight US senators, the finance minister said he told Lew, "The bill is a bill dealing with immigration. Temporary relocation of workers on site to service a client should not be confused with immigration."
India has watched with growing unease the tightening of the US visa regime in recent years, resulting in rising rejections and processing delays and fee hikes, calling them discriminatory. Consequently, secretary Lew may not be of much help now.
The bill must first pass through the Senate and the House of Representatives before landing on President Barack Obama's table for his signature, which is when the administration can intervene, if at all.
High skilled workers needed for servicing US clients of Indian owned businesses come to the US on H-1B (short-to medium stay) or L-1 (intra-company transfer). The bill proposes to discourage this by making it more expensive - hiking fee through staggered thresholds, and fixing higher wages - and difficult by fixing limits based on the existing proportion of employees on such visas.
The Confederation of Indian Industry has urged the US congress to reject these proposals.