India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit the United States on June 25 and 26. One of the issues many expect to be brought up in his meeting with President Donald Trump is the problematic domestic IT industry and the H-1B visa program. The visit comes in the middle of Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” strategy, an executive order geared towards immigration reform and includes a review of the H-1B program.
The H-1B visa is a special non-immigrant visa that allows the employment of non-Americans with technical and theoretical expertise in highly-specialized fields recognized by Section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. As a non-immigrant visa, H-1B requires visa holders to apply for another non-immigrant visa or find another U.S. employer upon termination, otherwise they must leave the country.
H-1B is of primary concern for India, whose citizens are the top beneficiaries of one of the United States’ most popular visas. The country accounts for roughly 70 percent of all H-1B visas awarded each year, most of which go to professionals from India’s fast-growing IT industry.
However, the H-1B visa is also a contentious subject for the Trump administration, which has repeatedly accused U.S. tech companies of exploiting the visa program to replace American workers with cheaper foreign workers.
Responding to questions on whether the H-1B issues would be brought out, Indian Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said, “I cannot say what would be the issues that would come up in the discussion. This is one of the issues on the table, [but] it is not the only issue. But, in the event the issue comes up, it would certainly be taken up.”
It would hardly be the first time for India to raise the H-1B visa issue in diplomatic talks. The South Asian country has repeatedly emphasized their substantial contribution to the US economy in imploring the US to loosen its grip on its notably restrictive visa policies.
This is a fact that India Union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made an effort to point out to the US – that while both India and the US stand to lose from H-1B reforms, the latter is bound to be harder hit.
Sec. Teaotia adds that India’s exports to the US are a “win-win for both countries in the sense that we are able to provide cheaper products” and that Indian companies have ultimately made US industry much more competitive.
“This is a partnership that has many benefits across sectors,” she asserts.
Indians working in the US with H-1B visas remain hopeful the program won’t be subjected to tough restrictions. PM Modi’s visit comes at a time when India is one of 10 countries with a trade imbalance with the United States.
If you want to learn more about the H-1B visa program, or want assistance on applying for a visa with your employer, the Lyttle Law Firm is ready to help. Schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle for a full review of your credentials.