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India Inc welcomes H1B visa fee drop

business Updated: Nov 15, 2007 21:20 IST

PTI
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High tech industry bodies have welcomed the move to drop a hefty $3500 fee increase in the H1B visa programme, which would also benefit Indian professionals seeking jobs in the US.

Hailing the move, they said the US must retain top talent from around the world to retain America's economic leadership.

The US Senate had approved the Sanders-Grassley Amendment that sought to increase the H1B skilled worker visa fees to $5000 as part of the appropriations dealing with the departments of Labour, Health and Human Services, Education for 2008 but conferees of the Congress dropped the measure as the House version of the Bill did not have the particular provision.

The House and the Senate conferees removed the H1B hike prior to the Bill reaching the White House. The fee hike was intended to provide additional scholarships for US students.

"We are grateful that conferees recognised that the Grassley/Sanders amendment was a tax on America's innovation economy, and was a counterproductive and punitive measure," said Robert Hoffman, Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, Oracle.

Hoffman said in the last eight years US employers have paid more than $1 billion in H-1B visa fees funding more than 40,000 scholarships for US students in math and science, supporting science programmes for 75,000 middle and high school students and training more than 82,000 US workers.

"US companies strongly support the development of US talent, but until native-born scientists and engineers meet the demand, we must be able to attract and retain top talent from around the world," he said.

"Innovation is the key to America's economic leadership, yet we are in danger of falling behind our international competitors," he said in a statement.

President George W Bush, escalating his budget battle with Congress, vetoed a $150 billion plus budgetary spending measure for health and education programmes.