US House votes to hike H1B visa fees

US House votes to hike H1B visa fees

US House votes to hike H1B visa fees

The House passed by voice vote the bill on border protection that would increase the H-1B and L-1 visa application fee by more than USD 2,000 in a bid to fund America's border protection measures with Mexico, which has been a source of a large number of illegal migrations.

The bill proposes to raise the fees on H-1B visas (for temporary skilled workers) for companies who have more than 50 per cent of their employees on H-1B visas. Their fees will raise from USD 320 to USD 2,320.

It also raises fees on L visas (given to multi- national transferees) for foreign companies. Their fees will raise from USD 320 to USD 2,570.

A similar version of the bill was passed by the US Senate last week with unanimous consent.

Unveiled 90 days ahead of the key November mid-term elections, it seeks to add another 1,500 agents and put in place greater number of unmanned aerial vehicles that scan the frontier for undocumented immigrants or illegal drug runners.

The bill, first unveiled by Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Claire McCaskill, would also pay for building forward operating bases along the border as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to patrol the border.

"I prefer our source, which is from these companies which are not, as I say—they are companies whose whole purpose is to bring people in on H-1B and the vast majority of them from other countries who go back to the other countries. That is a better funding source," said Senator Charles Schumer from New York, one of the co-author of the bill along with Senator Claire McCaskill.

Schumer said he "liked the H-1B programme" as "it does a lot of good for a lot of American companies".

The proposals USD 600 million price tag would be funded by hiking fees on what the measure's backers called a handful of foreign firms that "exploit" US visa programmes to improperly import workers to the United States.

"There is a part of H-1B that is abused, and it is by companies that are not American companies or even companies that are making something," Schumer said.

"Rather, they are companies that take foreign folks, bring them here, and then they stay here for a few years, learn their expertise, and go back. We think we should increase the fees when they do that," he underlined.

Infosys Technologies CEO S Gopalakrishnan has expressed concern over the House move, saying he was "saddened and disheartened".

India has at least 50 percent of the global outsourcing business.

According to the summary of the House Bill, it increases, for five years, the cost for two visas – H-1B and L-1 -- which permit foreign workers to come and work in the United States.

These fee increases, which would raise USD 550 million, would apply only to companies with more than 50 employees and for whom the majority of their workforce is visa-holding foreign workers.

The bill provides a total of USD 600 million to help address the threat of increased violence along the Southwest Border by strengthening border security and enforcement efforts, it said.

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