Obama signs Omnibus spending bill into law; raises H1B visa fee

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The “discriminatory” visa fee on Indian IT companies is back on the US Congress’ discussion table.

While the precise provisions of the spending invoice has no point out of Indian IT corporations, the language of the invoice has been written in such a method that it will have a huge impact on Indian IT corporations.

Congressional leaders, while agreeing on the $1.1 trillion spending bill, on Wednesday made a decision to impose a special fee of $4,000 on certain categories of H-1B visas and $4,500 on L-1 visas. Now, the higher visa charges will continue as part of the James Zadroga 911Health and Compensation Act, a move to fund the health costs of more than 72,000 known responders and survivors of 911, including more than 33,000 who already have 911-linked illnesses.

Though the lawmakers behind the bill described it as a temporary provision, the new H1B and L1 visa fee increase is for a period of 10 years as against a previous provision of five years. The $2,000 fee was first adopted in 2010 and expired on September 30.

The bill delivers funding to compensate those whose lives were impacted by the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in NY.

The hike in visa fees by up to $4,500 will not have an impact on the growth of the Indian IT industry, Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy said.

When President Barack Obama called Modi this week to thank him for helping negotiate the Paris climate change agreement, Modi quickly turned the conversation to the Indian IT industry’s concern over how a new U.S bill passed on Friday makes H-1B and L-1 visas horrendously expensive.

Indian firms such as Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services have set up large US offices with American employees to be closer to clients, but there is always an offshore angle. The newly imposed visa hike on work visas is expected to generate more than a billion dollars per annum, which will be used for biometric entry and exit tracking system, and for funding healthcare treatments for 9/11 first responders.

The USD 1.1 trillion spending bill includes USD 548 billion in defence spending, USD 518 billion in non-defence spending, and USD 73.7 billion in additional funds for the Pentagon for ongoing combat operations.

Working in America gets costlier as Obama signs Omnibus spending bill

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