More reports on: World economy

US set to slap `safeguards' duty on foreign professionals

18 December 2015

The US Congress is expected to pass a bill that seeks to impose special levies on migrant workers, mostly professions in the IT and medical fields, coming to the US on temporary assignments.

The bipartisan bill, which prescribes special fees of $4,000 and $4,500 for H1B and L1 visas, respectively, will mostly affect Indian IT companies that depend heavily on professionals sourced from India.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree on the bill even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his concerns about the proposal with President Barack Obama.

The new fees will apply to companies that have at least 50 employees, and more than 50 per cent of them are on non-immigrant H1 B and L1 visas.

The bill seems to be specifically aimed at Indian companies operating in the US, such as TCS and Wipro, while its aims to protect American companies that have mostly native Americans as their employees

The argument is that a hike in visa fee is needed to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system, which is part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill that the Congress is slated to vote today.

The special fee is expected to generate more than a billion dollar per annum and the money is proposed to be used to fund a biometric entry and exit tracking system, in addition to funding health screenings and treatments for 9/11 first responders.

While the specific provisions of the spending bill have no mention of Indian IT companies, the provisions have been made in such a way that it would mostly impact Indian IT companies.

The new hike in H-1B and L-1 visa fee is for a period of 10 years compared with the previous provision of five years.

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