Indian-American Congressman says H-1B visa system needs ‘common sense’ reforms

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley where a large number of Indians and other immigrants work, has said that the US needs to "remain open" to immigrants who contribute to creating jobs and help shape the economy, as he called for "common sense" reforms in the H-1B visa system. He said many Americans believe the H-1B visa programme needs to be reformed.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna. Photo courtesy:

The first-time Congressman Khanna told the media, “Of course, we have to end the abuses. We shouldn't have companies that have more than 50 per cent H-1B visas and we should make sure that they are paid the prevailing wage.”

“These are common sense reforms that people like Venk Shukla (TiE Silicon Valley leader) and many Americans believe in, let's fix the system, end the abuses but make sure we recognise the role of immigrants in creating jobs,” he said.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. It is highly popular among Indian techies and the technology companies depend on the programme to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Khanna, who was elected to the US House of Representatives last November and was sworn in as a Congressman this January, said, “We have to remain open to immigration, people coming here who can contribute jobs and help the economy.”

Khanna also pushed for strong relations between India and the US, in particular, the trade ties.

"There's a strategic partnership in advancing market security interests. India provides a large export market for American products with a large growing middle class. That can help create jobs in the United States," he said.

Khanna said he looks forward to visiting India soon. While condemning the recent hate crimes against Indian-Americans and Indians, he said the community has tremendously contributed to jobs, innovation, and service to the armed forces. He is working with other Indian-American lawmakers Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ami Bera, and with Congressman Joe Crowley to make sure they have a federal task force that deals with hate crimes.