India hopes the US’ review of non-immigration visa will take into account concerns of H1-B visa holders, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said.
In a virtual address to NASSCOM, Mr Shringla said there is some anxiety among Indians and the industry about restrictions on H1-B visa due to the US administration’s review of their non-immigrant visa regime.
“As you are aware, the government of India has closely consulted all stakeholders and engaged with the US government on this issue. Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) had taken this up, along with the issue of the totalisation agreement, during the visit of President (Donald) Trump to India in February 2020,” Mr Shringla said.
Noting COVID-19 impact on the US economy has led to a change in the situation, he said, “We need to adopt a realistic yet effective approach. Accordingly, our approach has been to work at the diplomatic level and deal with each specific issue one at a time.
“We were able to intervene early on in our lockdown with the US government on the issue of temporary relief for H1-B visa holders whose visas were expiring in this period, on a case-by-case basis.”
In engagements with the US, India has emphasized that this has been a mutually-beneficial partnership which should be nurtured, he said.
The Prime Minister had also underlined during President Trump’s visit to India that “the most important foundations of this special friendship between India and America are our people-to-people relations”, Mr Shringla said in his address to the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), a trade association of Indian information technology and business process outsourcing industry.
“Be it professionals or students, Indian diaspora has been the biggest contributor to this in the US,” he said.
India has continued to stress that the economic and trade linkages are a strong pillar of the Indo-US strategic partnership, particularly in technology and innovation domains, the Foreign Secretary said.
High skilled Indian professionals working in the US through H1-B and related non-immigrant visa regimes bridge the crucial skill gap and provide technological and competitive edge to the US companies, Shringla said.
“We have also highlighted that high-skilled Indian professionals are engaged in the fight against COVID across various fields including doctors, nurses, tech workers developing solutions for companies fighting the epidemic,” he said.
“We hope the review of non-immigration visa by the US government will take into account the long term benefits of H1B visa for US competitiveness and not affect provision of essential services at this critical hour,” Mr Shringla said.
In the government, the focus has been to increase the use of technology and digitalisation to reform governance, and increase financial inclusion to strengthen the social and economic standing of our people, Mr Shringla said.