New Delhi: Amid concerns over the US' changed H1B visa programme, India said today it was in touch with the Trump administration and making "full assessment" of its impact on Indian professionals.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Gopal Baglay said India was also in touch with the Australian government regarding the changes in that country's work visa programme. "The government is in touch with the governments of the United States and Australia on these matters and is also making full assessment of impact of these recent changes, in consultation with all stakeholders," he said.
Baglay also downplayed criticism of the government's foreign policy vis-a-vis job creation, saying the government has facilitated expansion of workforce through its flagship programmes such as 'Make in India' and 'Skill India' as also by delivering large technological partnerships and enhanced Foreign Direct Investment.
"Insofar as H1-B visas are concerned, the cap has remained at 65,000 since December 2004 when the H1-B Visa Reform Act of 2004 was enacted by the US Congress," he said. Referring to Australia replacing its popular 457 work visa programme with another programme, he said senior Australian officials have conveyed to India that "the impact of the changes will be negligible on Indian workers, most of whom fall in high skill category."
The MEA spokesperson recalled that the government had agreed with the government of France last year to allow Indian students at Masters level and above to extend their stay in that country for two years. In a blow to Indian IT industry and professionals, US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order for tightening the rules of the H-1B visa programme to stop its "abuse" and ensure that the visas are given to the "most-skilled or highest paid" petitioners.
Acting on his 'Buy American, Hire American' pledge, Trump signed the order that calls for an overhaul of the programme at the Kenosha, Wisconsin, headquarters of tool-maker Snap-on Inc yesterday. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had yesterday said his government will abolish a popular work visa used by over 95,000 foreign workers, majority of them Indians, to tackle the growing unemployment and replace it with a new programme requiring higher English-language proficiency and job skills. Turnbull said Australia will adopt a new 'Australians first' approach to skilled migration.