New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said if the US puts restrictions on H-1B visas, immigration or business outsourcing, it will not just hurt Indians but will be bad for the US too.
“We are not just talking with the US authorities (on H-1B visas and related issues), we are talking with logic and concrete statistics,” Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.
“This is a mutually beneficial partnership, and we have told them (the US) that if you snap these ties, it will not hurt us alone, it will also hurt you,” she said.
She said that the Indian information technology (IT) companies operating in the US are generating jobs there and contributing to the US exchequer.
“We have told them that it is not true that Indians are stealing their jobs. On the contrary, Indian companies in US are generating employment for the Americans. So far, Indian companies have given direct employment to 1.56 lakh Americans and supportive jobs to 4.11 lakh,” she said.
She added that between 2011 and 2015, the Indian companies have made an investment of $2 billion, paid taxes worth $20 billion and Indian workers have contributed $7 billion to the social security scheme.
Besides, she added, the American companies in India are earning $27.5 billion annually.
The External Affairs Minister informed the house that the Foreign Secretary and the Commerce Secretary visited the US between February 28 and March 3 this year and held meetings with cabinet ministers and senior functionaries of the new US administration as well as with the Congressional leadership.
“We have 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,” she said.
Swaraj said that the Trump administration has so far not announced any comprehensive policy changes impacting non-immigrant work visa programmes.
H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the US which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. It was first introduced in 1990 and since then the policy has seen a lot of flip-flop.
When H-1B visas were first introduced, the cap was a total of 65,000. In the year 2000, it was raised to 1,95,000 for three years. In 2004, the number of these visas was again reversed to 65,000 by the US.
The H-1B also allows visa-holders to bring their spouse and children under 21 to the US as dependents.
After President Donald Trump assumed office, there has been a lot of uncertainty over the future of H-1B visa-holder Indians working in the US with four bills about the H-1B visas pending in the US Congress.
“There are 13 bills for consideration before the US Congress. Four of them are about H-1B visas, six bills pertain to outsourcing business to India and three bills are about immigration. But none of them has been passed so far,” Swaraj told the house.
“The 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,” she said.