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Minister voices concern on US immigration bill

October 29, 2013 09:22 IST

Minister voices concern on US immigration bill

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

Indian concerns at the immigration legislation before the US Congress, its national legislature, came up at a meeting in New Delhi on Monday between commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and Steve Van Andel, chairman of the board of directors, US Chamber of Commerce.

Sharma told Van Andel that portions of the Bill would undermine the competitiveness of India’s information technology industry.

His ministry says he noted that ‘our IT companies had contributed enormously to the US economy through job creation, local hiring and enhancing the competitiveness of their clients, which included some of the US’ largest businesses’.

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Image: The Tribute in Light is illuminated next to the Statue of Liberty (C) and One World Trade Center (L) during events marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 10, 2013.
Photographs: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

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Minister voices concern on US immigration bill

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According to government statistics, Indian IT firms support 280,000 jobs in the US and have contributed about $15 billion to the US Treasury in the past five years.

Van Andel, it appears, assured the minister that the US business chamber was on the ‘same page’ and said India needed to be more vocal about the proposed legislation’s stiff regulations for skilled non-immigrant visas.

US President Barack Obama has, after the recent government-legislature standoff, now over, put the Bill on a priority for passage.

“Let's not wait. . . It doesn't get easier to just put it off.

“Let's get this done and in a bipartisan fashion,” Obama said last week at a gathering in the White House.

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Image: The Statue of Liberty is seen during its reopening to the public in New York July 4, 2013.
Photographs: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

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Minister voices concern on US immigration bill

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The Senate passed the legislation in June by a vote of 68-32, providing a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, including about 360,000 Indians.

However, some of the provisions are as aimed at Indian IT firms.

There are clauses to double the cost of H1-B professional visas, restricting IT companies’ ability to send workers to client sites.

The US-India Business Council has said the Bill is specifically anti-India.

Last month, it and five former US ambassadors to India had written a strongly worded letter to the US senators on this.

The matter was also taken up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his meeting with Obama last month in the US, who assured sympathetic consideration.

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Image: A child attends a ceremony to reopen the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island to the public in New York July 4, 2013.
Photographs: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

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