US tinkers with visa fee, Narayana Murthy says no impact on companies

Outsourcing fee imposed on highly qualified Indian IT professionals to $4,000

GN Bureau | December 19, 2015



IT industry veteran and Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy has said that hike in work visa fee (HiB and L1 visa) in the US, will not have an impact on the Indian IT industry's growth. "I don't think it is an issue at all, $2,000 or $4,000 that doesn't matter... These are issues that need to be discussed and I have no doubt at all that value of Indian IT services industry is so high to the US corporations that some of these issues will not come in the way of the growth of the Indian IT industry," he said.

It is feared that the Indian IT companies would have to pay millions of dollars while applying for H-1B visas, as they heavily rely on this work visa for highly skilled IT workers to get their work done in the US.

Indian IT companies have termed it as highly discriminatory and punitive as the text of the legislation has been written in such a way that such a high fee would have to be paid by only major Indian IT companies.

Companies having more than 50 employees and having more than 50 per cent of their US employees on H-1B and L1 visas would have to pay the new fee when the next visa application session kicks off on April 1, 2016.

However, Murthy does not see any problem about the issue because of the value that the Indian companies bring to the business.

Prime minister Narendra Modi has also taken up the issue with the US president Barack Obama. Modi "shared with President Obama the concerns of the Indian IT industry and professionals on the proposed legislation in the US Congress relating to H-1B and L-1 visas."

The US Congress has doubled the "outsourcing fee" imposed on highly qualified Indian IT professionals to $4,000 — a move that could cost the IT industry close to $400 million. The $2,000 outsourcing fee for H-1B visas and a $2,250 fee for some L-1 visas, which are used for intracompany transfers, were adopted by the US in August 2010. The fees were valid for five years and were not renewed after they lapsed in September. The fees has been increased to fund a 9/11 healthcare act and biometric tracking system.

 The $1.8-trillion spending package signed by US President Barack Obama on Friday, among other things, introduces a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for the L1 visa.

Earlier on Friday, Narayana Murthy, had met communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in his office. After the meeting he said that the benefits of the government's ambitious Digital India programme will take three to five years for citizens to derive full benefit out of it.

Murthy was speaking after meeting He said the Digital India programme has already brought a lot of value to people of the country. "The ability to make Delhi easily accessible to the poorest person in the remotest village can only happen through Digital India," said Murthy showering praise on Prasad by calling him the finest telecom and IT minister so far.

Prasad in turn said that he has requested Murthy to lend his guidance to policy formulation. "If certain policy initiatives are needed, I will be more than eager to listen to him because of the great institutions he has built and his contribution in making Indian an IT powerhouse," said Prasad.

Meanwhile, the $1.8-trillion spending package signed by US President Barack Obama on Friday, among other things, introduces a hefty $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and $4,500 for the L1 visa.

This year’s Congressional approved quota of 65,000 H-1B visas was filled up in the first few days of the start of the application process on April 1.

In fact the US government had to resort to a computerised draw of lots as it received several times the quota of 65,000.

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