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    Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and India's next prime minister Narendra Modi, right, has a laugh with party leader Sushma Swaraj

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    Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said in the country’s Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the H-1B visa with US President Donald Trump during their recent meeting.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's reply came after India's Congress opposition party blamed Modi for not taking up the issue of H-1B visa restrictions with Trump. H-1B is a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs.

    "Unfortunately, this matter was not taken up and no assurance has been given. If we look at the India-US joint statement, there is not even a mention of Indian IT professionals with the H-1B visa issue," senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said in Parliament.

    "Unfortunately, in recent years, difficulties have been created in the movement of Indian IT professionals, particularly in the US where the temporary movement and location of IT professionals is wrongly equated with that of the immigrants," Sharma said.

    Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj replied, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the spirit of H-1B visa with President Donald Trump during their meeting."

    "I take pride in saying that [Modi] successfully convinced Trump to admit that Indian skilled professionals have a big contribution in strengthening the US economy," Swaraj said.

    Junior Foreign Minister VK Singh reiterated the government's stand and said that India is closely engaged with the US Congress and the US administration on the H-1B visa issue.

    "US Congress has six bills relating to H-1B and L1 visa programs. The bills seek to amend the various provisions related to the granting of H1 and L1 visas. However, so far none of these bills have been passed and no comprehensive policy changes have been made," Singh said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament.

    India is concerned as the Trump administration is planning to impose restrictions on H-1B visas that will directly affect Indian IT professionals.

    Indian skilled workers mainly from the IT sector are the largest group of recipients of the 65,000 H-1B visas issued each year to new applicants under a cap mandated by the US Congress. However, the actual number of Indian nationals working in the United States under the H-1B program is quite large because of some of the exemptions available for Indians and roll-over visas. The $143 billion Indian IT industry derives 60 percent ($65 billion) of its total export revenue of $108 billion from the US market alone. This revenue is now seen as vulnerable under Trump's America First policy.


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