• India benefits from the H-1B visa program more than any nation
  • `That's very worrying for our model of growth going forward'

Donald Trump’s statements on eliminating U.S. visas for highly skilled workers pose a risk to India’s growth model, according to an adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Trump, the New York real estate mogul who leads in the race for the Republican party’s nomination for president, said the H-1B visa program should be scrapped even though his company uses it. At a debate on Thursday night, Trump called the program “very, very bad for workers" and said “we shouldn’t have it."

Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to India’s Finance Ministry, said on Saturday he was concerned about Trump’s remarks.

“That’s very worrying for our model of growth going forward," Subramanian told a conference in New Delhi hosted by the International Monetary Fund.

India benefits more than any other nation from the H-1B visa program, which allows skilled foreign nationals to work at U.S. companies. Asia’s third-biggest economy accounted for about two-thirds of the skilled-worker visas given in the year through September 2014, according to the latest U.S. government data.

Modi toured Facebook Inc.’s Silicon Valley headquarters during a visit to the U.S. last year. U.S. technology companies have backed efforts to boost the number of visas.

The U.S. accounts for about 60 percent of India’s software exports, with part of those earnings coming from on-site work. Researchers at the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimate that earnings generated by skilled visa holders from India are almost equal to the nation’s total exports of goods and services to the U.S.

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