NEW DELHI: Ahead of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s visit to India next week, US officials have told their Indian counterparts privately that they would place curbs on H-1B visas for countries like India that insist that US fin-tech firms store data locally.
While commerce ministry officials said no formal communication has been received, experts say such threats are normal bargaining tactics ahead of any key trade talks. “We have already promised to look into the US’ concerns,” officials pointed out.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had on Tuesday promised US firms Facebook, Dell, Amazon, SAP, Google, Cognizant, Paypal, IBM, VISA, and Microsoft, which had been hit by RBI data localisation diktat, that the central bank would look into their concerns. RBI’s move on localising data storage was prompted by concerns over privacy and protection of data.
If the US goes ahead with its threat to put curbs on H-1B work visas, it would severely impact the Indian information technology sector. Currently, there are no country-specific caps on the 85,000 H-1B visas given every year by the US and India is one of the biggest beneficiaries.