US Responds to India’s Discriminatory Visa Fee Charge

Visa H1 L1

WASHINGTON:  The US has told India it is bound by legislation on the recent visa fee hike – which has badly hit Indian IT companies, an issue that was strongly raised by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his bilateral meeting.

“There are always two issues, one of course is the recent one, visa fee hike and the other is the old issue of totalisation charges for the IT professionals. The US response really is that we have a legislation which so states it,” Jaitley told Indian reporters during a media roundtable.

“So unless that legislation is changed (it is likely to remain),” he said.

Mr Jaitley was responding to a question on the kind of response he received from the US Trade Representative, Mike Froman, when he strongly raised the issue during a meeting early this week.

Noting that such a visa fee is impacting only Indian companies, Mr Jaitley had described it as a “discriminatory” practice.

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Last year, the US Congress imposed a special fee of up to USD 4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas – popular among Indian IT companies – to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system.

While agreeing on the USD 1.1 trillion spending Bill, Congressional leaders decided to impose a special fee of USD 4,000 on certain categories of H-1B visas and USD 4,500 on L-1 visas.

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