Discriminatory visa fee may have $400 mn annual impact:Nasscom

Discriminatory visa fee may have $400 mn annual impact:Nasscom

Terming the hike in visa fee under the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act as "highly discriminatory", IT industry body Nasscom said the bill will have an impact of about USD 400 million annually on India's technology sector.

Nasscom asserted that the Indian IT industry should not be "repeatedly targeted as a revenue source to fund unrelated programmes i.e biometric entry-exit programme".

In a statement, Nasscom said the fees will rob American businesses of access to highly-skilled IT talent that they need and higher costs of hiring or contracting for IT services will force more US companies to consider moving IT operations overseas, thereby reducing American jobs and tax revenues.

"Imposing an additional H-1B and L-1 visa fees is patently unfair and discriminatory in nature... Moreover, this bill was introduced in a unilateral manner without any opportunity for consultation," it added.

Notwithstanding India's objection, Congressional leaders, while agreeing on the USD 1.1 trillion spending bill, yesterday 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.

The US House of Representative is slated to vote on the USD 1.1 trillion spending bill deal on December 18.

The money generated from the special fee, expected to be more than a billion USD per annum, would be used to fund a biometric entry and exit tracking system, in addition to funding health screenings and treatments for 9/11 first responders.

"As per initial estimates, the financial implication of this bill on the Indian technology sector will be of the magnitude of about USD 400 million annually and could adversely impact competitiveness of India's tech sector," Nasscom said.

The body, which represents the over USD 140 billion Indian IT services market, said this "legislative attack" on one of India’s most important business sector comes at a time when US-India strategic and commercial relations otherwise are continuing to flourish in many ways.

"Such moves can introduce a paradigm of protectionism on the Indian side and derail this partnership," it added.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue with US President Barack Obama when the latter telephoned him to thank for his leadership role on achieving the historic agreement on climate change in Paris on December 12.

Nasscom has also raised the issue across various levels.

Despite all of this, seemingly in blatant disregard to their endeavours, the US has not only gone ahead with this discriminatory measure, but also quadrupled the financial burden and enlarged the scope compared to the earlier bill, it said.

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