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PM Modi raises H-1B visa issue with US Congressional team

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and principal secretary to PM, Nripendra Mishra, were present among other officials at the meeting.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: February 22, 2017 1:06:04 pm
PM modi, narendra modi, H-1B visa, US Congressional delegation, india us, donald trump, visa programme, indians in US, ajit doval, indian express news, india news Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a US Congressional delegation during a meeting
in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday raised the issue of H-1B visas during his interaction with the visiting US Congressional delegation and shared his perspective on areas where both countries can work more closely.

The bipartisan delegation of 26 members of the United States Congress told the Indian side that Trump represents the “public opinion” of the American people, and the US Congress will have to see what are the specific proposals that the US administration wants to be included in the legislation before taking a call on the issue, sources told The Indian Express.

WATCH VIDEO | PM Modi Conveyed India’s Concerns Over H1B Visa During Phone Conversation With US President Donald Trump

The Prime Minister shared his perspective on areas where both countries can work closely, including in “facilitating greater people-to-people linkages that have over the years helped contribute to each other’s prosperity”, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“In this context, Prime Minister referred to the role of skilled Indian talent in enriching the American economy and society. He urged developing a reflective, balanced and farsighted perspective on movement of skilled professionals,” the PMO said.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and principal secretary to PM, Nripendra Mishra, were present among other officials at the meeting.

“Prime Minister welcomed the Congressional Representatives to India. He said it augurs a good start to bilateral exchanges following the new US administration and Congress,” the PMO said.

The Prime Minister recalled his “positive conversation” with US President Donald Trump and the shared commitment to further strengthen ties that have grown deeper in the last two-and-a-half years, the statement said. “In this regard, he recognised Congress’ strong bipartisan support for the India-US partnership,” the statement said.

In the first telephone conversation last month since Trump was sworn in, Modi had conveyed India’s concerns on proposed changes to the H-1B visa programme. Trump responded that India’s views will be given “consideration”, sources said.

The US Congress is considering legislation pertaining to immigration reform, one of which has been introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, and is called the High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017. India bags almost 65 to 70 per cent of the H-1B visas issued by the US worldwide. China is a distant second at about 8 per cent, according to 2014 figures, the latest available US government data.

“If the US Congress is convinced of the Indian perspective, then it will be much tougher for the US administration to bulldoze the legislation. It is important that they are sensitised about the Indian point of view,” an Indian government source said.

Sources said that the H-1B issue was also raised by foreign secretary S Jaishankar during his two trips to New York, during the transition process. Sources said that Jaishankar had meetings in December with then Vice-President-elect Mike Pence and former US Congress Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now one of Trump’s advisors. The H-1B visa issue, which has got Indian government as well corporate sector worried, could emerge as one of the sources of potential discord with the Trump administration, sources said.

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