HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

PM to raise new US visa law with Obama

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 20, 2013
First Published: 01:35 IST(20/9/2013) | Last Updated: 02:55 IST(20/9/2013)

When he meets US President Barack Obama next week, Prime Minister Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will take up India's concerns over an under-process American legislation - the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act - that's expected to hit Indian IT workers and firms hard.

The proposed legislation is expected to kick in early next year. The PM will be visiting the US from September 25 to 30.

"We have been seeking changes in the legislation and the PM will take this up with President Obama," government sources said.

New Delhi finds some provisions to be acting as a "non-tariff trade barrier", which is against the spirit of World Trade Organisation commitments.

The bill aims to address the misuse of the popular work visa regime by illegal emigrants. The Indian side has been arguing that Indian IT professionals are temporary workers and not emigrants.

The proposed law says all companies with 50% or more employees from outside the US will have to pay a higher visa fee of $10,000 per worker. At present, the fee is $4,500, and it used to be $2,000 for H-1B and L1 visas till 2010.

The workforce of Indian IT firms is largely made up of non-US employees. Indian employees may not complain, however, since the draft bill says non-American companies should pay wages at par with American companies.

It also requires all firms to make an effort to hire Americans first, which again would push up costs.

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