NEW DELHI: The Congress on Friday urged the Modi government to talk to the Trump administration to prevent job losses of Indians holding H-1B visa due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said after compromising the "India First" policy in the HCQ drug climb-down, the government is again failing to secure the safety and livelihood of Indians in the US.
"Time for the prime minister to ensure that our soft power of 'Namaste Trump' converts into fair treatment of H-1B visa holders in the US," Surjewala said, noting that the US has put Americans on a temporary paid leave or allowed them to work for reduced hours in the wake of the pandemic.
But "the sword of H-1B visa job terminations" looms large over an estimated 75,000 Indians, with the United States giving them only a 60-day period to find a new job in case of a lay off, he said.
"Time for the prime minister to rise to the occasion. We demand that the Modi government ensure the extension of post-job loss limit of H-1B Visa holder Indians to 180 days," Surjewala said.
He said this will give them sufficient time to find another job when the situation improves.
"Modi government should also ensure that H-1B visa holders, who lost their jobs, are covered for COVID-19 and other health insurance free of cost, including extending support to their families," he said in a statement.
The Congress leader said the party also demands that the Modi government deliberate with Indian industry confederations like NASSCOM, CII, and FICCI to prevent further H-1B job losses.
He said there are 309,986 Indians working on H-1B visa in the US, and given the COVID-19 lockdown in the two countries, it is logistically impossible for them to return to India.
He said nearly 60,000 H-1B visas are generally granted to Indians each year which have already been on a steady decline for a few years whereas the rejection rate has gone up to as high as 53 pc for some top IT companies, who contribute 8 per cent to the GDP.
The economic slowdown is becoming "more and more extreme" during lockdown, he said.
Surjewala alleged that most organisations are even considering to terminate the contract unless the Modi government and the Trump administration find a solution.
This, he said, has to be taken-up on war footing as post-termination they would have 60 days to find a job, which seems bleak in these challenging times.