Amid Indian IT firms' concerns over restrictive US visa policies for their employees, a top American senator has assured that he is working on a bipartisan bill that will reform immigration laws and allow more Indians to come to America.
Influential US Senator from New York Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met noted Indian-American hotelier and Chairman of Indian-American Democrats Sant Singh Chatwal at his Manhattan hotel here on Friday.
During the nearly hour-long meeting, the three discussed India-US bilateral relations and concerns of Indian IT firms on problems in obtaining work visas like H1B and L1 for their employees.
Reid and Schumer expressed appreciation for the contribution made by the growing Indian-American community to the American economy, saying concerns regarding the visas are being addressed and taken care of.
"I am working to try and change the immigration laws so more Indians can come (to the US). One of the things that Harry and I care a lot about is changing the visas. So more Indians can come here to travel," Schumer said.
He said while Indians, Chinese, Russians are keen to come to the US, "the visa laws are a little bit too restrictive so we are working on a bipartisan bill. Harry Reid is going to try to help us get it passed very fast."
Chatwal said Schumer assured him that concerns of Indian firms regarding work visas for their employees are being taken care of and that more visas would be issued to Indian businesses and corporations for their employees.
He said Schumer is keen that more Indians come to the US not only on work visas but also as tourists, thereby contributing to the economy here.
Chatwal said that Schumer "wants more Indians coming to America and spending in the economy and building relationships."
Reid further said his and Schumer's next foreign trip will be to India sometime in the next one year. Chatwal said the details of the trip will be worked out and he will be accompanying the two during the trip, taking them to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Leading Indian and American IT companies have sought President Barack Obama's intervention on the "unprecedented delays and uncertainty" around L1 work visas, which they argued is adversely affecting their business and work.
According to a recent report in ComputerWorld, the companies have claimed in a letter written to Obama that immigration authorities were not abiding by the law in rejecting their applications for L1 visas.
Reid, a senior US Senator from Nevada, said the US has come to realise in the past two decades "the brilliance of Indians" particularly those working in the Silicon Valley, where the Indian engineering core is very strong.
"Silicon probably perhaps would not exist but for the fact that these young men, and now women, are coming to do the scientific things that only could be done by very smart people," Reid said.
Considered the US Senate's most powerful Democrat, Reid said he would also like Indians to visit Las Vegas for business. Schumer further said the Indian community in New York is "very pro-New York and pro-American".
"In New York we have the largest Indian community in the country and we are very proud of it. The more they are here the better New York will do," Schumer said, adding that nearly 14 per cent of the New York population is Asian.