Indian IT companies may feel the pinch with a group of Congressmen quietly mounting fresh efforts to reimpose a special $2,000 fee for H-1B and L-1 work visas to fund a 9/11 healthcare act.
Such a move has been made part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which funds health screenings and treatments for 9/11 first responders.
The bill, named after detective James Zadroga who died of a respiratory illness in 2006, expired on October 1. Lawmakers are seeking to permanently extend the bill and want to generate necessary funds by imposing a $2,000 additional fee on H-1B visas.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The L-1 visa, another non-immigrant visa, is valid for a relatively short amount of time, from three months for Iran nationals to five years for countries like India.
The bill has been written in such a way that it would impact only Indian companies. According to Nasscom, Indian companies had paid between $70 to 80 million per annum between 2010 and 2015.
The “extra fee applies to companies with at least 50% of their employees on H-1B visa or L-1 visas, and is in addition to the other fees paid by employers,” Computerworld reported.
Because of its 50% threshold, it mostly hits the large Indian IT services firms, the leading users of the H-1B visa, the report said.
Earlier this month, US senators had introduced a bill aiming to cut the number of H-1B visas by 15,000 from the current 85,000 a year.