No policy yet in US to curb visas, we are talking: Swaraj
The government today sought to allay the fears among Indian IT professionals, saying the US administration has not implemented any policy yet to curb jobs and efforts were underway to dissuade it from doing so.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha that the Indian government is talking to the Trump administration as well as the US Congressmen, giving proper data and reasoning to press home the point that the relationship between Indian IT companies with the US is mutually-beneficial.
"I do agree that there is an atmosphere of uncertainty and there is a fear of job losses," she said while responding to concerns expressed by the members over the move by the Trump government to curb H1B visas that will adversely impact Indian IT professionals.
"There is no policy announced by them (US administration) yet. There are four bills that have come up in the (US) Congress on visa restrictions but no bill has been passed yet. We are talking to the US administration and Congressmen," Swaraj said.
She went on to add, "there have been no job losses yet and no policy has yet come in US. A total of 13 bills have come up in Congress that includes 6 bills on outsourcing, four bills on visa and three bills on immigration."
She said the Foreign Secretary accompanied by Commerce Secretary paid a visit to the US from February 28 to March 3 and held meetings with Cabinet Ministers and senior functionaries of the new US Administration as well as with the Congressional leadership.
"We are not merely talking to them (the US administration), we are giving their proper arguments and figures... We are talking to them with data and reasoning while trying to save jobs of H1B visa holders,," Swaraj told the members.
The Minister said MPs should get satisfaction that the government is not just talking but giving proper data and reasoning to press home the idea that the relationship between Indian IT companies with the US is mutually-beneficial.
Swaraj said Indian companies have made investments to the tune of USD 2 billion in US from 2011-2015 and have paid taxes worth USD 20 billion, while Indian IT professionals have contributed USD 7 billion as social security money.
Likewise, she said the US companies doing business in India are earning USD 27.5 billion and "we are only telling them that all this is mutually-beneficial partnership. If you break this, then even you will be at a loss."
She said Indian IT companies has given direct employment to 1,56,000 Americans and 4,11 lakh supporting jobs and the US recognises their contribution to Us economy.
Swaraj said the discussions between the Foreign Secretary and US authorities covered all issues of common interest in India-U.S. Relations, including those relating to mobility of high-skilled professionals.
"The new Trump Administration has so far not announced any comprehensive policy changes impacting non-immigrant work visa programmes.
"In our interactions with the US Administration as well as the Congress, we have conveyed our interest and concerns and highlighted the mutually-beneficial nature of this partnership," she said in her written reply.
The Minister said the Government has emphasised that Indian skilled professionals have contributed to the growth and development of the US economy and have helped the US retain its competitive edge and innovation advantage.
They are a big stakeholder in India-US relations and their backward linkages to India have helped US businesses, she said, adding that the US side has conveyed that they recognize and value the positive contributions of Indian students and IT professionals.
"Government of India is closely monitoring the developments that may have a bearing upon the movement of Indian workers and professionals to the US. We remain in active dialogue with the US Administration and the US Congress at senior levels to safeguard the interests of Indian workers and professionals in the US," she said including those relating to commitments made by US under General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of World Trade Organization.