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US shelves talks with India on H-1B visas

Trade talks with India, to include US tech visas, postponed indefinitely

The H-1B visa programme allows tens of thousands of skilled workers into the US each year.
The H-1B visa programme allows tens of thousands of skilled workers into the US each year.

Talks between the US and India over visas to allow Indian tech workers into the states have been postponed indefinitely, according to Information Week.

A US trade delegation had been due to visit India this week, to discuss a number of issues, including the H-1B visa programme. Thousands of highly skilled workers from around the world are awarded the H-1B visa each year to work in the US, but the Indian government had raised concerns that rejection rates for Indian workers were rising.

Anand Sharma, Commerce Minister of India was due to discuss the growing number of rejection, and a rise in fees for the H-1B visas, at the US India Trade Policy Forum (TPF). A statement from the Office of the US Trade Representative said that the talks had been postponed as there was still work to be done in developing the agenda, with many commentators taking that to mean a lack of progress in getting India to give more access to US firms to its markets. No new date has been set for the talks.

The US awards a set number of the temporary visas each year, set at 65,000 for the current fiscal year, but had received enough applications for the full quota by end of November 2011. No new applications will now be considered until October of this year.

The H-1B visa scheme gives US companies access to skilled workers, mainly in technology fields, while giving knowledge transfer and experience to Indian workers and companies. The scheme has been criticized in the US however, over concerns that US workers were being replaced, and that the scheme was abused to bring in entry-level workers rather than skilled professionals.