UNGA: Sushma raises H-1B visa issue with Rex Tillerson
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the UNGA. They discussed measures to curb terrorism and regional issues related to Pakistan and Afghanistan along with Indian-American issues of H-1B visa and DACA. This was the highest level meeting between the two countries after PM Modi and President Trump met in June.
During the Sushma-Tillerson meeting, "the Secretary thanked the Minister for India's contributions to stability and development in Afghanistan and the region," and asked for more help from India in Afghanistan, where he is modifying US policy. They also discussed alleged proliferated terrorism in Pakistan.
Sushma raised the issue of H-1B visas with Tillerson. H-1B visas allow US companies to employ skilled workers from abroad. Trump had earlier said that he would restrict H-1B visas to keep in line with the policy of Americans first. However, no changes have been made until now as this year; 65,000 H-1B visas and 20,000 for those with advanced degrees have been kept.
Sushma expressed concern over Trump not renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that grants work permits to children of illegal immigrants. About 7,000 Indians are covered under the DACA, a presidential order by President Barack Obama. Trump wants the Congress to legislate a law regarding this. If a law is not made until DACA's expiration, he would reportedly consider the renewal.
Apart from discussing issues related to terrorism and Indian-Americans, the two also reviewed the trade and investment relations. They also looked forward to convening a 2+2 dialogue with Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj is gearing up to address the UNGA today. After India has taken a hard line against Pakistan at UNGA, her speech is eagerly awaited.