India has “very strongly” raised the issue of H-1B and L1 visas with the US, Indian Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said last week, asserting that the American economy will find it difficult to cope with the reality as it has been immensely benefited by Indian IT professionals, PTI reported.
The US has tightened the norms for issuing the most sought-after H-1B and L1 visas in line with the Trump administration’s goal to protect American workers from discrimination and replacement by foreign labour.
In a new directive, the Trump administration this week made it more difficult for the renewal of H-1B and L1, popular among Indian IT professionals, saying that the burden of proof lies on the applicant even when an extension is sought.
Under the current US rules, Indian IT professionals working in the US on H-1B visas do not get back their hard- earned contribution to Social Security, which runs into at least more than USD1 billion per annum.
“We raised very strongly the issue of Indian professionals and H-1B and L1 visa issues,” Prabhu said after the first US-India bilateral Trade Policy Forum (TPF) under the Trump administration which was also attended by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
“We explained to them that we are not raising this issue because Indians will find it difficult to come because US economy itself will find it difficult to cope with the reality because the US has immensely benefited by IT professionals penetrating into the market by offering services that have improved their productivity,” Prabhu said.
Batting for Indian IT companies, he also strongly raised the issue of totalization.
“I hope they will look into the issue,” Prabhu said, as he pointed out towards the issue of mismatch between US visa and US social security regimes, wherein Indian professionals making social security contributions do not receive their due benefits upon their return to India.
Meanwhile, the US and India have also agreed to address the issue of trade deficit by increasing and diversifying bilateral trade, the minister said as he sought to ease of procedures for export of mangoes and pomegranates to the US.
Taking note of America’s concern on price controls on medical devices, Prabhu, during his meetings with Lighthizer last week, encouraged US companies to take benefit of the “Make in India” policy and establish manufacturing facilities in India which would considerably bring down the cost.
Acknowledging that there is a very strong issue about medical devices, Prabhu said he explained to his American counterpart that public health is a priority issue for the Indian government.
“This is something we would have to balance between the commercial interest and the larger public interest,” he said, adding that there is a review due early next year, during which concerns of the US would be relayed back to the reviewers.
Prabhu said that his meetings have yielded very positive results in the removal of barriers in the export of Indian mangoes to the US.
Prabhu said India has sought cooperation from the US in certain technology sectors like artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and aviation.
While acknowledging significant areas of progress in the commercial relationship, Prabhu and United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross shared candid feedback on a range of market access issues that can be addressed to expand trade and investment opportunities.
Ross highlighted the potential to enhance trade by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers and committing to the use of international standards.
While recognising the reforms that India has undertaken to simplify tax and bankruptcy procedures for the industry, he indicated that greater effort in this direction would ensure a more meaningful and balanced trade relationship.
Prabhu appreciated the growing strategic and economic relationship between India and the US.
Emphasising the liberalisation measures undertaken in India, he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to making India a favoured investment destination.
While responding to US concerns on price controls on medical devices, Prabhu mentioned about the need to bring about a balance between providing optimum medical facilities and affordable healthcare to its citizens.
India desires to address the concerns of providing healthcare to its citizens at reasonable costs and balancing it with the need to introduce high-end technology, he said as he encouraged American companies and manufacturers of medical devices to establish manufacturing facilities in India.