New Delhi(AICC) An Statement Issued by Shri Randeep Singh Surjewala , After compromising on ‘India First’ policy in the HCQ drug climb-down, Modi Govt is once again failing to secure the safety and livelihood of Indians in America. The sword of H-1B visa job terminations looms large on the heads of an estimated 75,000 Indians, with the United States giving them only a 60-day period to find a new job in case of a lay off. There are 309,986 Indians working on H-1B visa in the USA, and given the COVID-19 lockdown in the two countries, it is logistically impossible for them to come back to India.
While the COVID-19 pandemic was raising its ugly head in India, we were holding public felicitations for the U.S President and his entourage. Time for the Prime Minister to ensure that our soft power of ‘Namaste Trump’ converts into fair treatment of H-1B visa holders in the United States. It is important to note that while the US has put American citizens on temporary paid leave or allowed them to work for reduced hours in the wake of the virus; Indian H1B workers, on the contrary, will have to work for 40-hours per week on a payroll and be paid nothing less but the same amount.
Nearly 60,000 H-1B visas are generally granted to Indians each year which have already been on a steady decline since the last few years; where rejection rates have gone up as high as 53% for some top IT companies.
The Economic Slowdown is becoming more and more extreme during lockdown. Just the IT Sector contributes nearly 8% to the GDP, where the US accounts for two-third of the IT Services exports. All these 3 Lakh jobs, which have been one of the highest contributors to India’s growth, are at risk and the most affected would be the one, who’s Visa renewal is past due or would be in the coming months.
Most organizations are even considering terminating the contract unless Modi Govt. intervenes with the help of the Trump administration in finding a solution. This has to be taken-up on war footing as post termination, they would have 60 days to find a job, which seems very bleak in these challenging times; not to mention that there are no flight back home and with no health insurance, their very lives could be at risk (hospitalisation cost $72,000), US being worst hit when it comes to COVID-19.
Time for the Prime Minister to rise to the occasion. We demand:Let Modi Govt. ensure (with its US counterpart) that the extension of post-job loss limit of H-1B Visa holder Indians be raised to 180 days instead of the currently stated 60-days. This will give them sufficient time to find an alternate job as the situation improves.
Modi Govt should also ensure that the H-1B visa holders, who lost their jobs, are covered for COVID-19 and other health insurance free of cost, including extending support to their families. We also demand that the Modi Govt should deliberate with Indian Industry confederations like NASSCOM, CII, and FICCI to prevent further H-1B job losses.