No plans to cap H-1B work visas for Indians

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New York: The US has no plans to place caps on H-1B work visas for Indians, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday.

In a background briefing ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to India next week, the official said that he (Pompeo) “will be able to assure the Indian leadership that we have no plans to place caps on H-1B work visas” for nations that are requiring local storage of data by American companies.

A review of H-1B visa programme is taking place, but “that is not targeted at India; it is completely separate”, the official said and acknowledged importance of the visa programme for US companies. “Indians have contributed under the H-1B programme to the US economy.”

Some media reports had said that the US was going to cap the H-1B visas issued to Indians at 15 per cent in retaliation for Indian regulations requiring some financial services companies like credit card issuers to store data within India. About 70 per cent of H-1B visas now go to Indians.

The official also said that Pompeo’s visit will seek to deepen the relations between the two countries, especially in strategic and trade areas, as both democracies shared a commitment to an open Indo-Pacific regions and shared concerns about the developments in the region.

Described External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar as “one of the visionaries behind the expansion of the India-US strategic partnership”, the official said Pompeo looked forward to meeting him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The official saw Modi’s re-election with a stronger mandate as helping deepen ties with the US, especially in trade and business as it would mesh with his vision of building a strong India.

IANS