Indian envoy seeks more US visas for high-skilled workers

Washington, April 15 (IANS) Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao has sought a generous American visa policy for high-skilled workers from India saying it would help both countries to come out winners.

As US policymakers move forward with efforts to reform the immigration system, "we respectfully urge that they consider the impact of their decisions on the ability of both US and foreign-based companies to expand now and in the future," she wrote in an opinion piece in the USA Today

"The inspirational history of economic synergy between our two nations should serve as our guide to the future," Rao wrote adding, "A generous visa policy for highly skilled workers would help everyone; both nations would come out winners."

Noting that President Barack Obama has described the US-Indian relationship as the "defining partnership of the 21st century," she wrote: "The impressive growth in our trade and economic relations provide a robust foundation for this vision."

Pointing out that India-US trade has nearly tripled from $35 billion-a-year to $100 billion in less than a decade, Rao said: "Major US companies look to India as an essential outlet for growth -- and vice versa."

Taking on critics who have suggested restricting access for Indian companies to certain types of high-skilled worker visas (H-1B and L-1), she said information technology services would be disadvantaged by such changes in US immigration laws.

Rao said many IT companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services, WIPRO, Infosys and HCL, that are based in India bring employees to the US for good reason.

"They provide the continuity and institutional knowledge required to serve commercial and governmental clients well," she wrote noting, "Indian IT companies and the visa-holders they sponsor play a vital and vibrant role in America's economy and the communities in which they work."

"Today, Indian-based IT service providers employ well over 50,000 US citizens and recruit and hire more each year," Rao noted.

The industry supports more than 280,000 other local US hires and aids many US-based companies in developing new products and improving operations and efficiencies, she wrote. "This, in turn, helps them both preserve and create jobs here in the US."

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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