NEW DELHI: The government today tried to assuage concerns of Indian professionals over H1B visa, saying the steps taken by the US were aimed at illegal immigration and it would continue to engage with the Donald Trump administration on the issue.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay further said that during the recent discussions of the Foreign Secretary and the Commerce Secretary with their interlocutors in the US, there was a strong recognition as well as respect for Indian skills and contribution of the Indian technological manpower to the US economy.
"Senior US officials have stated that illegal immigration and not H1B is their priority. President Trump has also referred to merit-based approach on the subject," Baglay said when asked about the curbs on H1B, thereby, putting the jobs of thousands of Indians at stake.
He also noted that the Indian business body NASSCOM in its statement recently had also said suspension of premium processing is not a significant impediment.
He said it has been India's view that the presence of skilled Indian professionals is positive for the US economy as well, particularly when the US seeks to build a stronger economy.
There are, of course, other advantages from the presence of Indian professionals in the US, such as, backward linkages, he noted.
"We have conveyed to the US side that H1B is a trade and business issue, an economy issue. Our views have been clearly conveyed to the concerned US interlocutors," he said, adding the government believes that the plans of the US Administration for the US economy present an opportunity for the two countries to further consolidate their strong economic partnership.
Responding to a query on attacks on Indians, Baglay said US interlocutors had told the Foreign Secretary that the killing of an Indian engineer in Kansas was an individual case.
The Kansas shooting incident as well as the other subsequent ones have been raised in very strong terms with the US authorities, he said, asserting that security of Indians and persons of Indian origin is a matter of serious concern for the government.
"Given the high priority the government attaches to the security and wellbeing of Indians and persons of Indian origin abroad, we will continue to remain strongly engaged with the concerned authorities wherever required," Baglay added.
He also mentioned a letter by Kansas governor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing a sense of regret at the unfortunate shooting, commitment to prosecute the matter, support to the family of the deceased, and recognition of the qualities and contribution of Srinivas to Kansas.