Jaitley takes up H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has “strongly raised” the H-1B visa issue with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, highlighting the important role played by highly skilled Indian professionals in America, officials said.

During the meeting — the first cabinet-level interaction between the two countries under the Trump administration — Mr. Ross is believed to have said that U.S. has started the process of reviewing H1B visas issues and no decision has been taken on it yet, sources said.

Taking up the case of Indian IT companies and professionals, Mr. Jaitley told Mr. Ross about the contribution of highly skilled Indians in the economic development of the United States and India and stressed that they should continue to do so, which is in the best interest of the two countries, an Indian official said.

Mr. Ross is understood to have said that whatever the outcome of the review process, the Trump administration’s objective is to have a merit-based immigration policy that gives preference to highly skilled professionals.

The executive order signed by Mr. Trump early this week calls for a review of H-1B visas by the departments of State, Labour, Homeland Security and Justice.

Mr. Jaitley, leading an Indian delegation, arrived in Washington DC Thursday morning to attend the annual Spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Over the next two days, the Finance Minister is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the U.S., Australia, France, Indonesia and Sweden. He is also likely to meet finance ministers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Stressing that India-U.S relationship has bipartisan support in both the countries, the Finance Minister said the two largest democratic countries of the world over the years have developed a strong strategic, economic and defence relationship. Mr. Jaitley is believed to have given Mr. Ross an insight into a series of “far reaching reforms” being undertaken by the Modi government post-demonetisation including the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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