The recent Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) and assurances given by the US government have not cut much ice between the country and the Indian IT industry.
Wipro chairman Azim Premji on Monday met commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman over concerns related to visa fee hike. He, however, maintained that the decision was not targeted against Indian professionals.
The US in December had hiked the fee for H1B and L1 visas -- the types used by overseas companies to employ people in the US -- to $4,000 and $4,500 respectively.
Premji in a closed door meeting is understood to have asked the minister for details of the talks.
US commerce secretary Penny Pritzker had last week said Indians were major “beneficiaries” when it came to visas as about 69% of H1B and 30% of L1 visas were issued to them last fiscal.
“This statement by US did not go well with the IT industry and they are concerned whether US will actually take the concerns forward or not,” sources privy to the meeting told HT.
HCL chairman Shiv Nadar is also likely to touch upon same concerns in his upcoming meeting with the minister. “This meeting is likely to happen on Wednesday,” sources added.
Indian IT industry raised the visa issue at the India-US CEO Forum, saying the move hurt Indian IT firms, which are the main users of these non-immigrant temporary work visas.
According to India, the absence of a totalisation pact is imposing a burden on the Indian software sector as they have to pay over $1 billion per year to the US government towards social security, with no benefit or prospects of refund.
Not just Sitharaman, even external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had raised this issue with US.
The visa fee hike has “affected our people-to-people exchanges… I would urge you to find a just and non-discriminatory solution to these issues,” Swaraj had told US secretary of state John Kerry.
US has constantly being denying the allegations raised by India and the Indian IT industry that “changes that have been made towards H1B and L1 visa applications are limited and focused on Indian nationals.”
“But given the concerns expressed by Indian industry, I committed to minister (Nirmala) Sitharaman to look into this and report back,” Pritzker had said.
India has also sought the details of the data shared by Pritzker to align it with the concerns shared by the Indian IT industry.