CHENNAI: Even as the outcome of the proposal to cut the number of US H1-B visas by 15,000 is unknown, a group of Congressmen, are proposing to re-introduce the $2,000 fee on H-1B and L-1 visas on Indian IT companies.
The fee applies to those having at least 50 per cent employees on H-1B or L-1 visa, and is in addition to the other fees paid by employers. This ‘discriminatory’ fee was first adopted in 2010 and expired on September 30. According to Nasscom, the Indian technology industry contributed an estimated $375 million to the US Treasury so far.
R Chandrasekhar, President Nasscom had termed the fee ‘unjustified.’ “It had nothing to do with the IT industry. It was applied in an inequitable way, which specifically targeted Indian companies,” he said.
The fee was imposed primarily at the instance of a group of lawmakers led by Senator Charles Schumer. The duration of the law was extended from four to five years under James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 to provide healthcare and financial compensation for the firefighters and other ‘First Responders’ who helped out in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.
Now, lawmakers are seeking to permanently extend the Bill and want to generate necessary funds by imposing a $2,000 additional fee on H-1B visas. In August, a law was also passed with a provision to hike H-1B and L-1 Visa fee per application by $2,000 and $2,250 respectively for qualifying firm, but not approved. In the past, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, wanted a federal investigation “into the practice of discriminating against US citizens in favour of H-1B workers, a clear violation of the 1986 law that protects Americans from discrimination based on citizenship.”