India decries new US bill on visa fee
Describing the new US law to extend increased visa fee to 2021 as a "retrograde" step, India on Thursday said it will send a "negative signal" to Indian investors in America.delhi Updated: Dec 23, 2010 23:13 IST
Describing the new US law to extend increased visa fee to 2021 as a "retrograde" step, India on Thursday said it will send a "negative signal" to Indian investors in America.
In a letter to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said: "Passing of such a legislation would to my mind be a retrograde step for greater trade engagement".
The US Congress has passed a bill for creating a USD 4.3 billion fund to provide free medical treatment to those suffering from illnesses contracted while clearing the debris at the Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack.
The estimated budget will be funded by continuation of an increased fee on certain categories of H-1B and L1 visas up to 2015.
The move would mainly impact Indian IT companies, which earn about 60% of there USD 50 billion revenue from exports to America.
In August, the visa fee hike, under the US Border Security provisions, was valid till 2014.
The funding under the new bill would also come from a new two per cent excise on goods and services imported by the US government from countries which are outside the purview of WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement. It affects India because it is among those countries which are outside this pact.
Sharma said the issue of visa fee has caused considerable concern and apprehension to the Indian industry. He said the James Zedroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act "will send a negative signal to Indian investors who have remained firmly committed to partnering the American companies and have supported jobs even at the peak of economic crisis."
Seeking Kirk's personal interest and intervention, the minister said that during the recent visit of President Barack Obama to India, both the countries had agreed to reduce trade barriers and abjure protectionist measures for facilitating greater movement of professionals and investors.