NEW DELHI: India’s concern over the hike in H-1B and L1 visa fees was on Thursday strongly taken up by the NDA government with the US administration.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in a bilateral meeting with US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, said such a move was discriminatory and largely targeted at Indian IT companies. Jaitley is in Washington to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated events. He is accompanied by RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and other officials.
Jaitley affirmed that sustained engagement and rapidly increasing trade and investment partnership between India and the US are key elements of the bilateral process. According to estimates, Indian professionals contributed over $25 billion to US Social Security during the last decade.
Commenting on the visa fee issue, C P Gurnani, MD & CEO of Tech Mahindra and chairman of Nasscom, told Express, “As an industry body we have written to trade bodies and senators in the US on the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee. It puts an unnecessary burden on Indian IT companies.”
US President Barack Obama had last December approved new legislation allowing introduction of an additional fee for certain categories of H-1B and L-1 visas. Indian companies were impacted by the legislation since the fee was only applicable to organisations employing over 50 foreigners with more than 50 employees on L-1s and H-1Bs.
The additional fee for an H-1B visa increased to $4,000, while the L-1 visa charge went up to $4,500.
“We are the major suppliers (of software professionals) and (discrimination) is a burden on us,” said Gurnani.
While the H-1B visa allows American companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers if they are unable to find required talent locally, L-1 visa is for intra-company transfer.
“It is a positive effort from the government and we welcome it,” Raman Roy, managing director of Quatrro Global Services, told Express. Roy is a pioneer of the business process outsourcing industry in India.