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When United States president Barack Obama visits India in November it’s expected that India will raise the issue of the recent hefty increase to the fees of visas.
The nearly $2,000 increase in the fee is expected to raise over $550 million over five years, and this money will be used to increase security and prevent illegal immigration over the United States-Mexico border.
The increase in fees means that Indian IT companies will have to pay up to $250 million per year in order to pay for the over 50,000 of H-1B and L-1 visas, not including the amount of visa renewals that also have to be paid for to send workers to the United States.
The fee is seen as an “economic barrier” that will affect both India and the United States, according to Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. “Many of the developed countries are looking inward for fiscal consolidation. Economic barriers such as visa restrictions and the hike in visa fees will negatively affect the global recovery,” he said to reporters shortly after the fee hike was announced.
Many foreign technology companies have over half of their United States-based employees on similar visas. According to Sharma, he wrote a letter to United States trade representative Ron Kirk saying that, “Our concern is serious and well-founded – given the industry’s contributions globally – and it has been registered.”
According to several India officials and industry experts, the visa-fee increase is a violation of World Trade Organization regulations. India’s commerce secretary, Rahul Khullar, said, “We have sent a clear message to the world that the visa fee hike is WTO-incompatible. The United States cannot pass a law which clearly hurt’s India’s interests and then realistically expects us to accommodate their commercial interests.”
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