Kamal Nath ‘surprised’ on H1-B visa issue

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) “Surprised” over the two US senators’ enquiries over the alleged misuse of the H1-B visa programme by some leading Indian IT companies, Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath Wednesday said he would raise the issue at global trade talks in Brussels this week.

“Temporary movement of skilled professionals is an essential component of the global services economy and bears no relation to immigration issues,” Kamal Nath said in a statement from Paris.

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“Any move which creates uncertainty and unpredictability about such movements will naturally have an adverse impact on the rapidly expanding services trade,” he added.

The minister will visit Brussels May 17-18 to attend the Doha round of global trade talks.

“Unless we see forward movement in such areas, it will be difficult for India to enhance its commitments in the services negotiations,” he noted.

“Services are an important component of the breakthrough in the current WTO negotiations and any move which vitiates the current progress will only frustrate the progress in bringing the round to a successful completion.”

Republican Chuck Grassley and Democratic Richard Durbin, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees, have asked nine Indian firms, including Infosys, Wipro and Satyam, to explain their use of the H-1B visa programme.

“More and more it appears that companies are using H-1B visas to displace qualified American workers,” they have said in letters sent to the nine firms, which used nearly 20,000 of the available visas, seeking details about their workforce by May 29.