FM meets US Treasury Secy, flags concern over H1B visa issue

FM meets US Treasury Secy, flags concern over H1B visa issue Washington: Flagging concerns of Indian companies on the H-1B visa issue in the latest US immigration bill, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday told his American counterpart Jack Lew that temporary relocation of knowledge workers should not be confused with immigration.

"There are some provisions related to the H-1B and L1 visas, which require a higher visa application fee, if certain threshold is crossed in employing Indians on site. I did flag it in my meeting with Secretary Lew. Just made the point that temporary relocation of knowledge workers should not be confused with immigration," Chidambaram told a select group of journalists here.

Noting that the bill is of immigration, Chidambaram said that temporary relocation of knowledge workers on site to service a client should not be confused with immigration.

"I hope the point is taken," he said in response to a question on his meeting with Lew.

During his meeting with Lew, Chidambaram said the two discussed a range of bilateral issues of mutual interests. They also discussed the possible dates for the next India-US Economic Dialogue.

Chidambaram proposed that the next India-US Economic Dialogue be held in July along with the CEO Forum meeting in Washington on July 11 and 12. The US has not confirmed the dates yet.

"We generally exchanged views on matters of mutual interest," he told reporters during a news conference.

Responding to questions, the Finance Minister said the growth of Japan is good for India.

Chidambaram is currently in Washington to attend the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. During his trip, he also held road shows in Toronto, Boston and New York to attract foreign investors to India.

"Message is that we are committed to key issues like fiscal consolidation, containing inflation, improving the supply side, project implementation, independent regulators for critical sectors. It is always useful to talk to foreign investors," he said.

From the CEOs, he said, he heard, slowness of decision making, obstacles to implementing projects, some ambiguity in tax laws and some ambiguities in policies.

"I think, everybody recognises that India is an attractive market. Everybody recognises that India is a market in which you can do business and make reasonable profit," he said.

"There are some drawbacks in our system, which we need to fix," he added.

The Finance Minister said the potential growth rate of the country is eight per cent. He exuded confidence that India would soon achieve its potential growth rate.

Meanwhile, speaking at the at the Peterson Institute, the Finance Minister, said that in the long run it is in the interest of India to negotiate a FTA with the US.

"In the long run, I believe, it is in the interest of India to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US," Chidambaram said.

PTI