Vastavam web: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has raised the issue of tightening of the H-1B visa regime with his US counterpart Steven Mnuchin during their first meeting and highlighted the contribution of Indian companies and professionals to the American economy.This was the second time Jaitley raised the H-1B visa issue with the American side during his visit here to attend the annual Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He had also raised the issue with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross earlier.Jaitley highlighted the notable progress made in the Indo-US relations over the last few years and India’s ambitious reform agenda which was creating new opportunities towards a deeper economic engagement between the two countries, a Finance Ministry statement said.
“Critical economic issues like Indo-US investment initiative, infrastructure collaboration and NIIF (National Investment and Infrastructure Fund), collaboration with the US for Smart Cities Development were deliberated upon during the meeting,” it said.President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its “abuse” and ensure that the visas are given to the “most-skilled or highest paid” petitioners, a decision that would impact India’s USD 150 billion IT industry.The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. Indian technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year for their US operations.The US market accounts for about 60 per cent of the revenue of the Indian IT industry.
India accounts for the highest pool of qualified IT professionals, whose services go a long way in making American companies globally competitive.Last month, NASSCOM president R Chandrashekhar had said that the Indian IT industry actually contributes immensely to the US economy in terms of jobs that are created in America, both directly and indirectly.”Close to half a million jobs have been supported in the US as of 2015. The number of jobs have also been growing at 10 per cent per year as against a two per cent growth in the rest of the job market,” he had said.Jaitley also held bilateral meetings with the finance ministers of Sweden, France and Bangladesh. The discussions covered a wide spectrum of bilateral collaboration to strengthen the cross-country relationships.He also held a bilateral meeting with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim among others.