Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

India's Modi to Discuss Visas With Trump During U.S. Visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the U.S. next week, seeking to convince President Donald Trump to continue a key visa program that has allowed information technology companies to send skilled workers to the U.S. and flourish.

Nasscom, the Indian IT industry’s trade body, said Modi will explain during the two-day visit how the program has benefited both countries. “The IT industry has been key to American corporations’ innovations and competitiveness and over three-quarters of the top 500 U.S. companies use Indian IT services,” said R. Chandrashekhar, Nasscom’s president. “The time to talk is now.”

Trump began a crackdown on the H-1B visa program that lets thousands of skilled Indian workers live and work in the U.S. The visa holders serve as critical staff for IT companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd., Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. and Wipro Ltd. The administration said in an order in April it would combat ‘fraud and abuse’ within the visa program, saying it favors foreign workers at the expense of American jobs. In India, IT companies have started to cut jobs, and workers are blaming Trump for the firings.

The U.S. accounts for more than 60 percent of the $120 billion outsourcing industry. Outsourced IT services are a vital component of the Indian economy and the Trump administration’s visa moves affect the $70 billion worth of annual outsourcing contracts that IT services companies gain from the U.S., according to Nasscom.

“We have shared our views and perspectives ahead of this high-level visit that both countries have enormously benefited from India’s IT industry and it is important to keep the channels open for growth of this bilateral economic partnership so that the sector continues to contribute to its full potential,” Chandrashekhar said in an interview ahead of Modi’s visit.

Protect U.S. Workers, a labor advocacy group led by Sara Blackwell, is planning to stage a protest outside the White House on June 26, when Modi is scheduled to meet with Trump.

“The IT industry contributes in the high single digits to the country’s GDP and is a big employer with 4 million workers,” said Chandrashekhar. “The visa issue cannot be taken lightly, compromised, discarded or stymied by the not-so-well-thought-through measures.”

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