Washington : The US has assured India that the H-1B visas issue was not a priority for it and would be part of the larger immigration reforms package that the new Trump administration is working on.

The assurance came amid an ongoing debate in the US and reported moves by the Trump administration to bring out an executive order to curtail the use of H-1B visas.

“There was a sense that there is a recognition of the contribution of the Indian tech sector. Certainly this is not very much…not a priority of the government. They are concerned with the immigration issue…most of the issues are quite different,” visiting Commerce Secretary Rita Teotia told reporters at a news conference in Washington.

Teotia, along with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, is now in the US meeting top officials of the Trump administration and the Congressional leadership.

India has been strongly advocating the case of H-1B visas with the Trump administration. During their meetings with the top US officials, including Commerce Secretary William Ross, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and with the Congressional leadership, the visiting Indian officials conveyed that H-1B is a “category of trade and services” which actually helps American economy to be more competitive. “If the Trump administration’s intention is to bring back American companies to America and attract more foreign investment in the US, then it was important growing America remains competitive,” Jaishankar said.

H-1B, he noted, was a trade and business issue and not an economic issue, even though in the US context it was seen as part of the immigration basket. “What I would remind you is that the President in his address to the Congress preferred a merit-based approach to the subject. We heard across the board a lot of respect expressed for Indian skills in the US,” Jaishankar said, adding, “We have certainly made our point quite forcefully. We believe it has been met with a degree of understanding.”

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