Suresh Prabhu takes up H-1B, L-1 visa issues strongly with US

Suresh Prabhu takes up H-1B, L-1 visa issues strongly with US

New Delhi: Union Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu strongly took up Indian concerns over the H-1B and L-1 visas with the US, and pointed out the contribution of skilled Indian professionals to make US companies more competitive, an official statement said on Saturday.

"The minister for Commerce and Industry strongly took up the Indian concern with regard to problems faced by Indian services companies in obtaining H-1B and L-1 visas. He requested the US to ease the movement of skilled professionals, which has over the years contributed towards making US companies more competitive," the statement said.

During the 11th Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting, held in Washington on Thursday, Prabhu also took up the issue of mismatch between the US visa and the US social security regimes, wherein Indian professionals making social security contributions do not receive their due benefits upon their return to India.

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Prabhu urged the US to revisit its position and work towards achieving a "totalisation agreement".

The Minister discussed the issues with US Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and his team.

Prabhu pointed out that as the Indian economy grows, and with the renewed emphasis on reviving US manufacturing, there will be greater opportunities for US exports to India.

"In this context, he pointed out that India has already started to import crude oil and new Liquefied Natural Gas exports are expected to commence early next year," the statement said.

On market access in areas of interest to each other, Prabhu noted progress on issues like ground handling operations, import regulations relating to poultry, export of pork to India, that have been raised by the US side. He also sought easing of procedure for export of Indian mangoes and pomegranates and market access for table grapes from India.

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While responding to the US concerns on price controls on medical devices, the Minister explained the need to bring about a balance between the demand for optimum medical facilities and affordable healthcare to Indian citizens.

Following Donald Trump's election on a protectionist platform, the US has announced stricter norms for issuing the H-1B and L-1 visas.

Declaring that India would actually be able to buy more from the US in few years, he noted that New Delhi has started buying crude oil from Washington and there was great potential for America in the fast-expanding aviation market in India.

Prabhu will also leave for Cuba, and be in Havana from October 28-31 to hold discussions on boosting bilateral trade.