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H-1B not immigration but trade, services issue

21 April 2017

In a blow to Indian IT industry and professionals, US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its "abuse" and ensure that the visas are given to the "most- skilled or highest paid" petitioners. "He on this issue further stated that it is not an immigration issue, rather a trade and service issue, adding", there is a mutuality of interests involved". The domestic IT industry has transformed many times in the past.

According to Chandrashekhar, every country wants highly skilled workers from anywhere in the world, but there is a need to define "highly skilled workers" and ensure immigration policies of a country open the doors to them.

The MEA spokesperson recalled that the government had agreed with the government of France last year to allow Indian students at Masters level and above to extend their stay in that country for two years.

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The US, under the new executive order, proposes to replace the current lottery system for issuing H-1B work visas with a merit-based approach.

It also directs a separate review of government purchasing requirements, which, along with tightening the requirements for foreign workers, is a move by Trump to carry out his "America First" election campaign pledge.

Indian IT companies have been accused of misusing the H-1B visa regime, which they have consistently denied.

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"Insofar as H1-B visas are concerned, the cap has remained at 65,000 since December 2004 when the H1-B Visa Reform Act of 2004 was enacted by the US Congress", he said.

Infosys, India's second-largest IT company, said it continues "to invest in the local communities in which we operate, including hiring local American top talent, bringing education and training to our clients to shrink the skills gap in the USA, and working with policymakers to foster innovation within states and across the country".

"It is not an immigration matter as we have said earlier, it is basically a trade and services issue", External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said in his weekly media briefing.

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To queries on many countries imposing visa restrictions that are bound to impact the Indian IT companies, he said globally there is a rising trend of protectionism and anti-globalisation and it was translating into policies. She said: "So, it is a situation where it's not just Indian companies that have to face the USA executive order, there are several United States companies in India who are doing business for some years now and therefore I want this whole debate to be. if it has to be expanded, it has to be expanded to include all these aspects and we shall ensure that all these factors are kept in mind".

H-1B not immigration but trade, services issue