» Immigration Likely Topic of Discussion as Kerry Meets New Indian Premier

Immigration Likely Topic of Discussion as Kerry Meets New Indian Premier

Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 11, 2014 - First U.S. Cabinet officer to meet Modi may set stage for fall talks with Obama.

In the midst of contentious negotiations concerning international flash points including Iran, Ukraine and Gaza, John Kerry continued his jet-lag-inducing whirlwind of diplomatic initiatives when he arrived in India for three days starting July 30. But unlike the players involved in the trio of potential or current sources of conflict, the Secretary of State's hosts in New Delhi presented him with an array of issues they have been eager to discuss to deepen the countries' relationship.

Kerry’s visit to India is important because, among other reasons, it sets a precedent — his arrival in New Delhi marked the first meeting between a U.S.-Cabinet-level official and newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who ended the political reign of the Gandhi-led Congress Party with his party’s sweeping electoral victory in May.

The United States-India relationship is multifaceted. The fifth so-called India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue likely touched upon a variety of issues important to each side, including disputes on facilitating trade, development of nuclear power in India, terrorism, American investment ventures in India, disputes over intellectual property rights, pharmaceutical standards, Indian sensitivity over American intelligence operations in India, U.S. treatment of Indian IT companies and the obstacles to U.S. immigration reform.

“Immigration issues always surface during bilateral talks between the United States and India,” said Annie Banerjee, a prominent attorney in Houston who specializes in immigration law. “And the anemic pace of progress on H-1B visa availability for qualified Indian workers has become particularly frustrating.”

During Kerry’s visit to India, he met with Modi and the Secretary of State’s Indian counterpart, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Kerry’s meetings with Indian officials will be followed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s visit for talks in August and, perhaps most importantly, Modi’s visit to the United States in September to meet President Obama.

“Hopefully, Kerry’s visit will set the table for a breakthrough on immigration reform when Obama and Modi meet a few months from now,” Banerjee said. “The socio-economic benefits that a larger pool of available visas could provide to both countries are too important to let the opportunity for resolution pass.”

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