WASHINGTON: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley “strongly raised” the key H-1B visa issue in his meeting with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in Washington DC today after US President Donald Trump, earlier this week, signed an executive order ordering a review of the policy by the departments of State, Justice, Labor and Homeland Security.
The meeting between Mr Jaitley and Mr Ross holds significance as the first Cabinet-level interaction between the two nations under the Donald Trump Administration.
Officials said that Mr Jaitley highlighted the crucial role played by skilled Indian professionals and companies in the economic growth of the two countries. Mr Ross is believed to have said that the Donald Trump Administration has only started reviewing the visa process and no official decision has been taken on it, sources told news agency PTI. The US Commerce Secretary also said that the Trump Administration intends to have a merit-based immigration policy that gives preferences to highly-skilled professionals.
The finance minister also stated that India and US have, over the years, cooperated and maintained strong and strategic relations in the areas of economics and defence. Mr Jaitley further said that the two nations should strive to achieve the goal of $500 billion worth of bilateral trade in the next few years. Mr Jaitley is also believed to have briefed the US Commerce Secretary about various policies undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi post-demonetisation, according to PTI.
Leading an Indian delegation to attend the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, Mr Jaitley is also expected to meet finance ministers from US, France, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.