Visa fee hike under new Border Security Act makes sense: US | world | Hindustan Times
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Visa fee hike under new Border Security Act makes sense: US

With the Indian IT firms terming as discriminatory the new US Border Security Act, the Obama Administration has said the measure, which proposes a steep hike in some categories of H-1B and L-1 visa fees, "makes sense" and would in no way undermine "robust and vital" ties with India.

world Updated: Aug 14, 2010 13:40 IST

With the Indian IT firms terming as discriminatory the new US Border Security Act, the Obama Administration has said the measure, which proposes a steep hike in some categories of H-1B and L-1 visa fees, "makes sense" and would in no way undermine "robust and vital" ties with India.

"I think the United States and India have a robust and vital relationship, and nothing in this bill should interfere with that," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters at the White House last night, shortly after President Barack Obama signed the Border Security Bill into law.

Napolitano said "it makes sense" to raise visa fee for certain business to fund for the security of the US-Mexico Bill, as by doing so there would be no financial burden on the American economy.

"I think this administration has a very close relationship with India, and we know and hope to sustain it as such," the official said, referring to the statements made by businesses in India and the US that the fee hike will undermine growing economic relationship between the two countries.

"The method of payment, which is an increased visa charge for certain business-related visas, makes a lot of sense, because what it's saying is that we're going to make sure that we pay for immigration in this part of it, but we paid for it out of the visa system. That way it doesn't come out of the general fund, which is necessary for so many other things," she said.

The Senate was able to find a way to fund this bill that did not add to the deficit and allowed the US to get the enforcement money it needed on a permanent basis, Napolitano said in response to a question.

Her comments follow the statement by India's software industry body Nasscom, which insisted the US Border Security Bill had logical flaws and was discriminatory in nature.

The Bill seeks to increase application fee for H-1B and L-1 visas by at least $2,000 for the next five years.

As per Nasscom's estimates, Indian companies, mostly IT, apply for 50,000 visas every year, including H-1B and L1 visas, besides renewal of old visas.

Similarly, top industry body CII also termed the US move as "protectionist" that could be detrimental to the economic interests of both countries.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, in a communication to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, had said the visa fee hike was a discriminatory step that would hurt the interest of Indian companies operating in the US.