INDIA’S finance minister Arun Jaitley has raised the issue of H-1B visas with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross as he highlighted the role of highly skilled Indian professionals in America, Indian officials said.
Earlier this week, US president Donald Trump said he was looking to stamp out “abuses” of the time-limited work permits, which are widely used in the US high-tech sector.
Intended for scientists, engineers and computer programmers, H-1B visas have become an important gateway for many Indian prefessionals drawn to Silicon Valley.
The United States issues 85,000 each year.
Jaitley met Ross yesterday (April 20) in Washington DC, where the Indian minister stressed the contribution of skilled Indians in the US.
The Trump administration argues that the current system has led to a “flood” of relatively low-wage, low-skill workers in the tech sector – and in doing so has harmed American workers.
“We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first,” Trump said.
The US Chamber of Commerce voiced immediate reservations: While it agreed there was room for improvement of the H-1B program, it warned the Trump administration not to do away with it altogether.
“It would be a mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers from around the world who can contribute to American businesses’ growth and expansion and make the US more competitive around the world,” the business lobby said in a statement.
Jaitley is in the US with a delegation to attend the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The finance minister is scheduled to hold meetings with his counterparts from the US, Australia, France, Indonesia and Sweden as well as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.