India to make a strong case even as Trump says ‘Hire American’

India is planning to press its case further and partake in the review process of the H-1B issue even as US President Donald Trump signed an executive order — Buy American, Hire American — seeking to tighten the rules governing the sought-after visa programme.

“This is just the first step taken toward reviewing the programme. India is going to engage with the US on this matter. The review process will take three months. We will try and see how India can present its case in this review process that will have a bearing on the final decision,” said a senior official requesting anonymity.


Top officials of the Indian government have been going to and fro ever since Trump assumed power in November 2016. He had had a thumping victory over his allies mainly due to the promises he made on overhauling the US’ ailing visa system with the objective that foreign workers do not replace local workers.


Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who left for the US on Wednesday to attend meetings at the World Bank, IMF and G20, said he will take up the matter with the Trump administration. “These are matters of discussion with the appropriate authorities there. Once I do discuss and get an opportunity, I will let you know,” he said here on Wednesday.


Last month, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had taken up the matter with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.


IT industry body Nasscom is planning to “help and engage” with the US legislators in the process of forming recommendations for the next steps in the H-1B visa reform.


“Undoubtedly, this opens some areas of concern on what the recommendations will be. We are happy to help the US government with more suggestions in these three months and would like to engage with them,” R Chandrashekhar, President, Nasscom, told BusinessLine.


As per the executive order, which was signed by Trump on Tuesday night, the American government will undertake a substantial immigration reform. He even called for rejection of the lottery system of distributing the visas.


“Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery — and that’s wrong,” he said on Tuesday in Wisconsin while signing the order. He even asked various departments of his administration to ascertain the fraud and misuse of the H-1B visa scheme and ensure it is given to only the “most-skilled and highest paid” workers.


India accounts for nearly 70 per cent of the H-1B visas. Last year, almost 1,27,000 H-1B visas were given to Indian workers, according to US data.


‘Domestic issue’


Sanjay Puri, Chairman, US India Political Action Committee, said: “India will hurt itself more if it tries to interfere in an issue which is a US domestic matter. Indians are foreigners at the end of the day.


“Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook should come forward and speak what they really want.”


Source- The Hindu Business Line





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