New Delhi, Oct 19: As the US plans major changes in H-1B visas, India on Thursday said it was "closely engaged" with the Trump administration as well as the US Congress on the matter.
The comment by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson came after Washington said it is planning to "revise" the definition of employment and specialty occupations under the H-1B visas by January, a move which will have an adverse impact on Indian IT companies in the US.
"It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why time and again, at different levels, we have taken up the matter with the US side. Most recently, it was discussed and mentioned during the two-plus-two talks," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He said India is closely engaged with the Trump administration as well as the US Congress on the matter.
"It is indeed correct that the administration has taken measures to prevent abuse of this programme and there are certain bills which have been introduced," Kumar said.
"I think what we get to hear are the provisions from those bills, but it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far," he added.
The MEA spokesperson said that, during discussions, India conveyed to the US the contribution made to the growth and development of the US economy by the highly skilled Indian professionals.
The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The department of homeland security (DHS) said On Wednesday that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.
It will "propose to revise the definition of specialty occupation" to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.
It will also "revise the definition" of employment and employer-employee relationship to "better protect" US workers and wages, the DHS said.
Such a move, which is part of the Unified Fall Agenda of the Trump administration, is likely to have an adverse impact on the functioning of Indian IT companies in the US and also small and medium-sized contractual companies in the IT sector, which are mostly owned by Indian-Americans.
The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.
The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits.
The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.
The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master's degree or higher are exempt from the cap.
As an H-1B non-immigrant, the applicant may be admitted for a period of up to three years. The time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond a total of six years.