India to take up the H-1B visa fee issue with the US

December 28, 2015
The recent hike in the H-1B visa fee is likely to affect the movement of high-skilled professionals from India to the US. According to the official sources, India would quickly schedule a dialogue with the US to increase its concerns over the recent decision taken by the US to increase the H-1B visa fees. 

India to take up the H-1B visa fee issue with the US

Issues linked to the tightening of the visa and immigration rule and a fear that many of the US jobs are going to the outsiders has been part of the public speaking before the elections in the US.

Indian Industry bodies Nasscom and FICCI had already termed the US decision to increase the fees for H-1B and L-1 visas to $4000 and $4500 as biased as it would majorly affect the IT firms of India. 

In the year 2014, India was the largest user of the H-1B visas with around 67.4% of the total  1,61,369 H-1B visas granted in that year goes to Indians.  India is also among the biggest users of L-1 visas, as it got 28.2% of the total 71, 513 L-1 visas granted in that year.

The companies that are largely affected by the hike rule are the IT and ITeS sector from India, as they are the largest users of the L-1 and H-1B visas. 

As per the sources, the dialogue on this matter would be held very soon on digital video conference between the two governments.  These discussions would be part of high-level meeting of India-US Services Working Group.

Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister, is likely to write to the Commerce Secretary of the US, Penny Pritzker.  And according to the sources, the Industry bodies and the Indian Ambassador to the US are in constant touch with the administration of the US for putting across the views of India.

The Commerce Ministry of India had pointed out that the visa fee hike is hurting the Indo-US services business. And they are insisting that the entire visa related matters would be part of the dialogue on the mutual services trade.

During the year 2014-15, export of ITES/ BPO and the computer services from India was $82 billion, out of which exports from India to Canada and the US was almost 60%.

According to the sources, the Indian Commerce Ministry with Ministry of External Affairs is in discussions for ensuring that the video conference of the visa-related matter happens soon. As the presidential elections which are schedule in November 2016, India looks to solve this matter before the term of Obama administration ends. 

India had previously protested the holdup in signing the agreement to remove dual security taxation,  the IT sector of India has already burdened as they had to pay over $1 billion yearly to the government of the US towards social security.

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