India's foreign minister says favorable U.S. visa policy would be good for both countries

FILE PHOTO: Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar speaks to the media after the 2019 U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department in Washington, U.S., December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said on Monday a U.S. visa policy that supported Indian talent would be beneficial for both countries.

A more knowledge-driven, global economy will require more trusted talent, which is an opportunity for India, Jaishankar told a virtual conference on relations between the two nations.

“That is an opportunity for India and it is an opportunity which should be reflected to some degree in American immigration policies,” he said, adding that immigration was a “win-win” for both countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump has this year restricted several categories of foreign work visas, blocking the flow of certain skilled Indian workers into the United States.

The suspension included H-1B visas for skilled workers, which are often used by the tech industry. Indians made up 72 percent of the some 388,000 H-1B visa petitions approved in fiscal-year 2019, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the same conference later on Monday that the United States was working to fix its broken immigration system “once and for all” and the reforms would be based on a merit-based principle.

“We want people to come to this country that are ready to participate and ready to contribute as people from India have done and as people from the U.S. have done in India,” Pence said.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Alasdair Pal and Peter Cooney