India has asked United States to take a balanced and sensitive view on the proposed changes in H1B visa system as it affects citizens-to-citizens links, which are essential to bring energy into Indo-U.S. relations.
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis are in India to discuss common defense and security concerns and trade and commerce. They met India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman yesterday.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Swaraj said, “I have requested Secretary Pompeo to adopt a balanced and sensitive view on the issue of proposed changes in the H-1 B visa regime as this could affect the people-to-people links which are important for energizing ties.”
The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued Swaraj’s press remarks for first 2+2 talks between India and U.S., where she sought Secretary Pompeo’s support to nurture people-to-people links and urged for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to H1B visas.
She said in this statement, “Specifically, I conveyed our expectation for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H1B visa regime, given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness, and people-to-people partnership, all of which are a vital source of strength for our relationship.”
She further added, “I have mentioned this to Secretary Pompeo that on the basis of the friendship which exists between President Trump and Prime Minister Modi, Indians believe that America will not work against their interest. I have mentioned him to maintain the trust of Indians.”
United States has made certain changes in its policies for H1B visas, which are most sought-after visas among Indian professionals. The U.S. government has taken some steps recently such as increasing the premium processing fee and extending the suspension of premium processing of these visas.
The U.S. government says that American tech companies have been misusing H1B visa to hire foreign workers at the cost of American workers. The Trump administration had earlier warned IT companies to not misuse H1B visas.
The 2+2 talks between two the nations is the first meeting between Swaraj and her American counterpart Pompeo. This new dialogue format was decided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump during their meeting in Washington in June 2017.
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her U.S. counterpart James Mattis also took part in these talks and discussed common defense and security concerns. India and United States have signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms.
Both nations have also agreed to secure hotlines between foreign ministers of these countries as well as between defense ministers of both countries.