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India seeks more US visas for high-skilled workers


Updated: April 15, 2013, 5:53 PM IST
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India seeks more US visas for high-skilled workers
"A generous visa policy... would help everyone; both nations would come out winners," Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said.

Washington: As the US moves forward to reform its immigration system, India has said that a generous American visa policy for the country's high-skilled workers would help everyone and both nations will emerge as winners. "We respectfully urge that they consider the impact of their decisions on the ability of both US and foreign-based companies to expand now and in the future," Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao wrote in an opinion piece in the 'USA Today'.

"The inspirational history of economic synergy between our two nations should serve as our guide to the future. A generous visa policy for highly skilled workers would help everyone; both nations would come out winners," she wrote. "President Obama has described the US-Indian relationship as the 'defining partnership of the 21st century'. Given the rich, multidimensional engagement between our two countries and the strategic convergence of our values and interests, he is absolutely right in doing so," the Indian Ambassador wrote.

"The impressive growth in our trade and economic relations provide a robust foundation for this vision," Rao added. Pointing out that trade between the two countries has nearly tripled from $35 billion-a-year to $100 billion in less than a decade, she said, "major US companies look to India as an essential outlet for growth -- and vice versa".

"As the US Congress considers immigration reform, this trajectory -- and the mutual benefit it brings -- should shape the conversation," she said. She also countered the arguments of critics of current immigration laws who suggest restricting access for Indian companies to certain types of high-skilled worker visas (H-1B and L-1).

"Some prefer even capping the number of work visas available to highly skilled Indians or imposing extra fees on specific types of Indian firms," she said, warning that information technology services would be disadvantaged by such changes.

"Many IT companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services, WIPRO, Infosys and HCL, that are based in India bring employees to the US -and for good reason," Rao wrote. Indian IT companies and the visa-holders they sponsor play a vital and vibrant role in America's economy and the communities in which they work, she said.

Rao pointed out that these Indian companies were the most vocal cheerleaders of the closer engagement between India and the US and played no small role in bringing the two nations closer together. Making a strong case for a liberal visa policy, Rao argued that Indian-based IT service providers employ well over 50,000 US citizens and recruit and hire more each year.

"The industry supports more than 280,000 other local US hires and aids many US-based companies in developing new products and improving operations and efficiencies. This, in turn, helps them both preserve and create jobs here in the US," she said.

First Published: April 15, 2013, 5:53 PM IST
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