H-1B fee hike discriminatory, say Indian IT firms

H-1B fee hike discriminatory, say Indian IT firms

This will make the Indian IT industry less competitive vis-a-vis others in the global market, says the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

The association said the Bill is discriminatory and its impact on Indian firms could be as high as USD 200-250 million per year.

"This will have a negative impact on Indian companies which are investing in the US, employing US talent and are overall aiding the US economic recovery," Nasscom VP Ameet Nivsarker told PTI.

The Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act was passed yesterday by a voice vote in the House of Representatives.

The Bill proposes to increase visa application fees by at least USD 2,000 for the next five years to raise nearly USD 550 million to help fund the USD 650 million plan for increasing security along the US-Mexico border. These fee increases will apply only to companies with more than 50 employees and for whom the majority of their workforce are visa-holding foreign workers.

Indian software firms, including IT biggies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro and others, avail H-1B and L-1 visas to fly their employees to the US for working at their clients' locations as on-site engineers.

The USD 50 billion Indian IT export industry gets over fifty per cent of its revenue from the US market.

As per Nasscom's estimates, Indian companies (mostly IT) apply for 50,000 visas every year, including H1B and L1 visas, besides renewal of old visas.

IT bellwether Infosys Technologies termed the US Border Security Bill unfortunate and discriminatory when the need is to open markets to make companies more competitive in the global market place.

"Infosys has been recruiting in the US at all levels. Today we have around 1,300 citizens and permanent residents working for Infosys in the US and have been actively working towards hiring over 1,000 additional people over the past few quarters," the company said in a statement.

"We are working with various agencies of the government of India to take up this matter suitably with the US administration and we hope that the US would take necessary steps to enable a positive environment for international trade," he added.

In a letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had said that the increase would cost Indian firms an extra USD 200 million a year and make them less competitive.

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