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Jaitly flays 'targeted' hike in US visa fee

14 April 2016

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has raised India's concerns over what he termed as targeted hike in US Visa fees, which discriminated against Indian companies in the US.

The recent hike in H-1B and L1 visa fees is discriminatory and largely targeted at Indian IT companies, Jaitley said at a meeting with US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman.

Last year, the US administration imposed a special fee of up to $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas, which are mostly used by Indian IT companies. The funds so raised will be used to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system, and supplement the US government's $1.1 trillion spending bill.

Indian professionals contributed over $25 billion to the US Social Security programmes during the last decade, as per industry estimates. However, these professional are in no way able to retrieve their contributions.

During his bilateral meeting with the US trade representative, Jaitley also underlined the need for early conclusion of Totalisation Agreement which would benefit Indians working in America.

The US has entered into 'Totalization Agreements' with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes.

Under these, professionals of both countries would be exempted from social security taxes when they go to work for a short period in the other country. The two countries are also engaged in negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty to protect investments.

The finance minister emphasised on sustained engagement and a rapidly increasing trade and investment partnership between India and the US as key elements, saying India looks forward to strengthening and deepening this economic engagement.

Jaitley is currently on an official trip to Washington DC to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other sessions.

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