New Delhi: The issue of suspension of work visas such as the H-1B by the Donald Trump administration has “unfortunately” become “very political” due to the upcoming US Presidential elections in November, Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said Thursday.
He said the H-1B visa is an important element not only in the bilateral relationship between India, but also within the US.
“Unfortunately, it has become very political. And this is election time here. I’m being very candid. But I have spoken across the board not only in the administration, but also to senators and Congressmen and chambers making the points that high-skilled professionals from India bring in important skill sets and bridge the technology gaps making the US companies globally competitive,” Sandhu said, addressing an event organised by FICCI.
On 23 June, the Trump administration suspended the H-1B visas along with other work visas in order to safeguard American workers ahead of the most fiercely fought elections.
“In the US’ economic success, they (high-skilled professionals from India) play an important role and make it a global leader in technology. Now with innovation and technology leading the path in post-pandemic economic recovery, which is bound to happen once the pandemic is under control, their role becomes even more significant,” Sandhu stressed.
He said India has been raising these issues with the US administration and will continue to do so.
“This is a developing situation. There have been different orders, which are coming. A lot of it has a political flow. But I can share with you that across the board on both sides, the Congressmen and the Senators, I have spoken to all and underlined the value of Indian people working in the US,” he said, adding that many have written to the White House to review the decision.
Earlier this month, in a major setback to Indian IT workers, President Trump signed an executive order asking federal agencies to hire Americans and preventing them from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers, mainly those with H-1B visas.
“The US, in the past, has welcomed the best and the brightest talent from across the world … We are hopeful that our professionals will continue to be welcomed. We are taking it as a top priority,” he said.
‘Mini’ trade deal needed to tap full potential of trade ties
Highlighting the fact that signing a “mini” trade deal between India and the US is needed to achieve the full potential of the trade and business ties between both the countries, Sandhu said this is now a call for the US to take.
“A mini trade deal is very important. This is also one of the areas under discussion. We are very keen. We do put pressure on the USTR (US Trade Representative) here that this should be done quickly and this will have a win-win situation for both sides,” he added.
Sandhu also hinted at the fact that the issue of lowering of tariffs on US-made medical devices that are sold in India, will also be a part of the deal.
“This is a work in progress. We are in the final stages,” Sandhu said.