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Indian Minister Says No Worries For Now On H-1B Visa Front

© AFP 2021 / Manjunath KIRAN In this photo taken on January 10, 2017, interns work at the Hacklab.in space at Nasscom's Startup Warehouse, which incubates start-up tech companies, in Bangalore
In this photo taken on January 10, 2017, interns work at the Hacklab.in space at Nasscom's Startup Warehouse, which incubates start-up tech companies, in Bangalore - Sputnik International
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India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament that the government is in talks with the Donald Trump administration and assured that there was no need to worry over visas for now. The same day a new bill on H-1B visa was introduced in the US Congress.

New Delhi skyline - Sputnik International
India-US Relations on New High: More Than Dozen US Congressmen to Visit India
New Delhi (Sputnik) — Despite the minister's statement in parliament on Thursday, information technology industry and experts think that the job security of Indian IT professionals is under threat with the Trump administration giving its protectionist rhetoric the legal edge.

"Currently, there are four bills in the US Congress about curbs on H-1B visas. We are engaged (in a dialogue) with the US at very high level regarding this… We are making all efforts (through diplomatic channels) to ensure these bills are not passed. So there is no reason to worry about it as of now," she had said in parliament.

The minister pointed out that even before Donald Trump became President, the US had made changes in H-1B visa policy.

In the US House of Representatives on Thursday, Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer and his Republican colleague Doug Collins introduced the proposed Keeping American Jobs Act. The proposed law aims to stop employers who are awarded temporary visas through the H-1B program from using them to train workers in the US and then move those jobs to another country.

The bill is the latest in a series of such legal measures moved by US Senators and House Representatives to curb outsourcing jobs and restrict skilled foreign workers. And the risk is "real" despite the Trump administration keeping an open mind on the H-1B visa issue as a ban on skilled immigrants would have huge ramifications, said R. Chandrashekhar, president of software body NASSCOM, during an interview to TV channel CNBC-TV 18.

Will lobbying in the US work?

"India has invested a lot in lobbying efforts in the US for the last many years, and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over, it has been reactivated. It could play a huge part as the IT sector is one of the major success stories in India-US ties as well," Ashok Sharma, Fellow at the Australia-Indian Institute, told Sputnik.

India computer worker - Sputnik International
India’s IT Sector Nervous Over Bill for Restructuring H1-B Visas
The US is the most important market for India's US$110-billion IT services export industry and to navigate through changes, India's IT sector is changing its strategy on US work visas before new changes are implemented.

A key strategy is to exclude IT workers with low experience from the visa process, says Krishnakumar Natarajan, executive chairman of IT services company Mindtree Ltd. "We will stop applying for H-1B visas for employees with lower levels of experience," Bloomberg quoted Natarajan. Many other IT companies, including Infosys, is following the strategy.

According to NASSCOM estimates, Indians with H-1B and L1 visas contribute US$ 1 billion annually to the US. Indian IT industry contributes to about 400,000 direct and indirect jobs in the US, contributing for about US$ 5 billion in taxes annually. Nearly 60 percent, or about 65,000, of the total H-1B visas are issued to the Indian contingent, mostly in the IT sector.

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