Visa fee hike not to impact Indian IT industry growth: Murthy

Visa fee hike not to impact Indian IT industry growth: Murthy
The hike in visa fees by up to USD 4,500 will not have an impact on the growth of the Indian IT industry, Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy said today.

I don't think it is an issue at all, USD 2,000 or USD 4,000 that doesn't matter. The important thing is that you have to provide excellent value to customers," Murthy told reporters after meeting telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He was replying to a query on the impact of the fee hike on the Indian IT companies. Murthy further said, "These are issues that need to be discussed and I have no doubt at all that value of Indian IT services industry is so high to the US corporations that some of these issues will not come in the way of the growth of the Indian IT industry."

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 16 shared with US President Barack Obama the concerns of the Indian IT industry and professionals on the legislation, while it was under process, in the US Congress relating to popular H 1B and L1 visas.

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

The money generated, 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.

According to the agreed bill, the new USD 4,000 fee would apply to companies having at least 50 employees with 50 per cent of their employees on H-1B or L-1 visa. Such companies would have to pay a new fee of USD 4,000 for H-1B visas and USD 4,500 for L-1 visas.

While the specific provisions of the spending bill has no mention of Indian IT companies, the language of the bill has been written in such a way that it would have a big impact on Indian IT companies.

"I am a foreigner. As far as the US government is concerned, it is their right to take whatever decision they want in the best interest of the US," Murthy said.

He said that as a foreign entity, Indian IT companies can work harder, smarter and bring more innovation so that customers in the US will realise importance of value addition done by the Indian IT industry.

Murthy also praised Prasad for the initiatives taken by his ministry for the IT industry. "...looking at things that he has done in the last 15-16 months, I personally feel he is the finest IT and communications minister that we have," Murthy said.

Murthy cited the progress of Digital India project, revival of BSNL and steps taken to improve postal services as some of the main achievements of the government during the tenure of Prasad.

"I think this is what India was looking forward to, and ability to make Delhi easily accessible to poorest person in the remotest part can only happen through Digital India. Any such large scale programme will atleast require 3-5 years to derive full benefit of it," Murthy said.

Prasad, after the meeting, complimented Murthy and called him an icon. "If India's IT history will be written, the stellar of N R Narayana Murthy and his team will always find prominent place. Today I shared with him what we are doing and what we proposed to do and I made request to him that keep guiding us. If you feel certain policy initiatives are needed I am more than eager to listen to it and also do the needful," Prasad said. Murthy said he will contribute to government's programme whenever required and whenever asked to do so

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