Would spare no effort to persuade US: Swaraj on plans to end work permits for H-1B spouses

New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: May 28, 2018, 07:40 PM(IST)

File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Photograph:( PTI )

Amid the US plan to scrap a rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work legally in the country, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday the government would make all efforts to persuade the Trump administration against such a move.

The Trump administration is planning to end the Obama-era rule under which spouses of H1-B visa holders are given work permit or H-4 visa, a move that could affect more than 70,000 such visa holders. A significantly large number of these H-4 visa holders are high-skilled professionals from India.

Addressing her annual press conference in New Delhi, Swaraj, when asked about the US plan, said it was true that President Donald Trump was reviewing the H-4 visa programme and there were reports of its possible revocation.

"This is not just for H-4, I am also talking about H1-B visa as well. We are making a three-pronged effort to save these visas. We are talking to the White House, we are talking to state administration, and we are also talking to Congressmen and Senators," Swaraj said.

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This has yielded results as 130 members of Parliament, both Congressmen and Senators, have written a letter to Trump asking him not to revoke H-4 visas, stating that the American economy will be jolted by it, she said.

"We are trying our best to save H1-B visas, H4 visas. But America is a sovereign country. Ultimately they have to decide. How successful we will be, will be decided in the future. But I assure the country from this platform that we would not spare any effort," she said.

The H-4 visa holders had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration.

Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision. More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have benefited from this rule.

The 2015 rule allowed work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status -- a process that can take a decade or longer.


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