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Sushma Swaraj raises the H1B visa issue during her meet with Rex Tillerson

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met her American counterpart US secretary of state Rex Tillerson in New York on Friday and “strongly raised” the H1B visa issue during the meeting, her ministry tweeted late on Friday evening.

A few months ago, India had said, “Indian software exports and personnel add to the competitiveness of US industry”.

It may be recalled that a legislation had earlier been introduced in the US House of Representatives which calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders from US$ 60,000 to US$ 130,000, that would make it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers.

India fears the arbitrary overhauling of work visa programmes like the H-1B and L1, a move that will adversely hit the lifeline of Indian tech firms and professionals in the US. Nearly two-thirds of H1B visa applicants are Indian nationals working for Indian IT services firms such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro or the local operations of US firms such as Accenture, IBM and Google.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in
specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year. According to some estimates, the US issues 85,000 H1-B visas every year out of which Indians reportedly get about 60,000 visas.

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