Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has taken up with the US the issue of extending the expiring H-1B visas of skilled Indian professionals stuck in the country because of the lockdown in India, sources said.
He raised the issue with the US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E Biegun on Wednesday-a discussion that comes amid concerns that some H-1B visa holders could lose their jobs due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was about 10 days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to extend the visas of Indian students and skilled professionals. Many of visas are due to expire in the coming weeks, said sources.
While the visa extension issue is part of an “ongoing conversation” between the two countries, there has been no US government order to lay off H-1B visa holders-even though such a step may be taken by private companies. Sources said that visa holders get a 60-day period to find another job when their job contracts expire – they have to come back if they fail to do so.
The Congress, too, on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impress upon the US not to terminate the H-1B visas of Indians living in the country.
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