The United States on Thursday said it has no plans to cap H-1B visas for countries that force companies to store data locally, Reuters reported. The State Department was responding to a report by the news agency that quoted Indian officials to claim that the US had told India it is considering such a cap.
The Reserve Bank of India had in April 2018 asked payment firms to make sure that data is stored on local servers. Through data localisation, countries places restrictions on data to gain better control over it and potentially curb the power of international companies. US companies have lobbied against data localisation across the world.
A State Department spokesperson said the US administration’s “Buy American Hire American” executive order calls for a broad review of US worker visa programmes, including the H-1B program, but it was not targeted at a specific country. “It is completely separate from our ongoing discussions with India about the importance of ensuring the free flow of data across borders,” the spokesperson said.
The H-1B visa allows US companies to temporarily employ skilled workers from abroad. More than three lakh Indians are believed to be on this work permit in the US.
Hours after the report on US planning to cap H-1B visas, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India had not heard anything officially from the US on the matter, the Hindustan Times reported. “We remain engaged with the US administration...and we have emphasised time and again at all our high-level interactions the contributions of Indian skilled professionals to the growth and development of the US economy,” he said.
Kumar said India’s position was in line with “global best practices”. “We will remain engaged with the US on this matter and see how we can dispel any misconceptions on data localisation which they might have.”