Millennium Post

Nirmala to hold meeting with industry on US visa issue soon

Amid concerns being raised by India Inc on the US visa regime, the Commerce and Industry Ministry on Monday said it will soon hold a meeting with industry including Nasscom to discuss the issue.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India is closely monitoring the developments and is constantly in touch with the councillor office in the US.

"There are several nuances to that...So I would not rush to give a view on it, yes there is going to be an impact...We will be holding a meeting with Nasscom, industries which have significant presence in the US, talking to them about how they are working out in this environment, what are there strategies," she told reporters here.

She said the meeting would be convened soon after the parliament go for recess.

In the meeting, "we are going to have a clear exchange and discussions with them and after that, I will be able to have a clearer picture of where the industry is...," she added.

Industry body Nasscom has said that it will take a delegation of senior executives to Washington DC later this month to reach out to the new US administration as well as senators on concerns around clampdown on visas and flow of skilled manpower between the two nations.

The delegation will highlight and share information with the new US administration on direct jobs being created by Indian IT companies in the US, and contribution of Indian IT firms in making the US economy competitive.

The proposed overhaul of popular H-1B visa regime by American President Donald Trump has raised concerns among the Indian IT firms, as any changes in the visa regime may result in higher operational costs and shortage of skilled workers for the USD 110 billion Indian outsourcing industry.

Indian IT sector, which contributes 9.3 per cent of the country's GDP, is one of the largest private sector employer at 3.7 million people.
The US contributes nearly 62 per cent of the exports, while EU is the second largest market for the Indian IT services exporters contributing approximately 28 per cent.

Recently, a US legislation (Lofgren Bill) has been introduced that proposes doubling of the minimum wages of H-1B visa holders to $130,000. The current H-1B minimum wage of $60,000 was fixed in 1989 and has since remained unchanged.

Such protectionist stance by the US could also spell more trouble for IT firms that are already facing strong headwinds from currency fluctuation and cautious client spending.

The Ministry of External Affairs has said India's interest and concerns on the issue have been conveyed both to the US administration and the US Congress at senior levels.

Explaining about the visa issue, Sitharaman said that there are several nuances to the law proposed by the US.

"It is a call which is possibly going to happen through an executive order which will mean a few things...Probably, we will have to wait for Congress approval. There are several things which are embedded in that...and since it is so layered it is not right for me to react at one go,"
she added.

Further commenting about the increasing global protectionism, the commerce minister said that it is increasing during the time when global demand is also not picking up.

However, Indian exporters are maintaining growth in exports.
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