New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday told Parliament that India is trying to convince the US that tapping into the Indian talent is in mutual benefit of the two countries.

“Issuing visas is the sovereign prerogative of other states. But at the same time there are very important economic and business and social interests…We are constantly in touch with the American system, the American government, members of the Congress to convince them that tapping into the Indian talent pool is for our mutual benefit,” Dr Jaishankar told the Rajya Sabha.

He said India has been successful in convincing the US to a “large extent as actually if you look at the numbers, the number of HI-B visas has been going up in the last few years even though the total rejection rate has been coming down”.

Replying to a question during Question Hour in the House whether seven Indian IT majors were disqualified for H-IB visa by the US, Dr Jaishankar said there was no disqualification but the number of visas have gone down.

“With regard to seven major Indian employers there is no disqualification on any of them. The number of visas for which they have applied to has come down in the last two years. Denial rates have also gone up,” he said.

The minister added that denial rates have not gone up only for Indian companies but for all companies.

As regards to the seven companies, they got 3,828 new visas and 15,230 renewals of HI-B visas last year, he said.

About the spouses of Indians, Dr Jaishankar said H4 visa was introduced in the US in 2015 for them to work in the country.

“Indians today account for 93 per cent of the total number of visas issued in this category. There was some controversy whether this programme will be continued but right now it is continuing…There is a court order to the effect that it should be continued but the Trump adminstration has indicated that it may review it,” he said.

The minister said an H-IB visa application has become “more complex” for employees worldwide, including Indian IT companies, due to administrative changes in the programme which have increased documentation requirements on the petitioners.

These changes have impacted the processing of H-IB petitions in general entailing a high number of scrutiny, he said.

As per USCIS statistics, the minister said, a total of 116,031 initial or new HI-B petitions were processed and completed in fiscal 2019, out of which 27,707 were denied.

Dr Jaishankar said in fiscal 2018, 1.25 lakh H-IB visas were issued to Indian nationals which accounted for 69.9 per cent of the total 1.79 H-IB visa issued as per the US Department of State.

“Indian nationals account for nearly 70 per cent of all H-IB visas issued even though the share of Indian IT companies in H-IB visas is relatively small,” he said.