Nirmala Sitharaman discusses H-1B visa program with 8 members of US Congress


India’s commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman met with eight members of the US House of Representatives, and discussed a host of issues including proposed reforms to the H-1B visa program and intellectual property rights (IPRs), in New Delhi, on Monday.

While India raised its concerns regarding H-1B visa restrictions, which is likely to have adverse bearing on its $110-billion IT industry, the US side flagged the IPR and copyright related matters, in a 45-minute exchange, people aware of the matter said. Besides, both sides also discussed market access of certain agricultural products, reported PTI.

The US delegation was led by Bob Goodlatte, chairman, Judiciary committee, House of Representatives.

The Indian IT sector, which contributes 9.3% to the country’s GDP, is one of the largest private sector employers of 3.7 million people. The US accounts for nearly 62% of the exports, while EU is the second largest market for the Indian IT services exporters with around 28% contribution.

Indian officials also likely discussed a bill proposed by California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, which intends to raise the minimum salary for an H-1B visa holders to $130,000, from the present slab of $60,000. That would severely hamper the IT service companies from sending their employees to the US.

Industry association Nasscom met the delegation too, on Monday.

“We have shared our views with them that Indian IT industry is a large contributor to job creation in the US and we bring skills in areas where there is a huge skill deficit,” Nasscom President, R Chandrashekhar told PTI.

Microsoft’s chief Satya Nadella is also scheduled to meet Prasad tomorrow, on Tuesday. reported the eight-member US delegation will meet IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too, on Tuesday.