US Trying to Understand Visa Fee Hike Impact on Indian Firms

Washington, Aug 31 (IANS) The United States says it's trying to understand the potential impact of a steep hike in US worker visa fees on Indian companies, but no new step has been taken yet to ease Indian concerns.

"I think we have been explaining to the Indian Government the specifics in the legislation, and trying to understand the potential impact on Indian companies," State Department spokesman Phillip J Crowley told reporters Monday.

"But beyond that, I'm not sure that there is any particular next step," he said when asked what had been done to ease India's concerns over the new law signed by President Barack Obama ignoring Indian and American corporate protests.

The new law aimed at raising $600 million for securing the US-Mexico border would cost Indian IT firms sending thousands of professionals to US on H-1B and L1 visas an additional $250 million annually.

The law which came into effect Aug 14, imposes an additional fee of $2,000 for certain H-1B petitions and $2,250 for certain L-1A and L-1B petitions will be charged. The new rates will remain in effect till September 30, 2014, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

These additional fees apply to petitioners who employ 50 or more employees in the US with more than 50 percent of its employees in the country in H-1B or L (including L-1A, L-1B and L-2) non-immigrant status.

The Indian government has protested to Washington against what it calls a highly discriminatory law that would largely affect Indian IT firms like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam.

Indian officials and the US-India Business Council, representing 300 top US firms doing business with India, have warned the new "discriminatory" law could hurt burgeoning India-US economic ties.


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