The United States ''is in touch'' with India on the issue of a hike in visa fees for Indian professionals working in the US, an unnamed senior administration official has been quoted as saying in agency reports. The official also confessed his ignorance about India approaching the World Trade Organisation on the matter.
Indian news agency, the Press Trust of India quotes the official as saying "We are in touch with the Indian government and are trying as best as we can to answer the questions they have about this new law." The agency said the official concerned was apparently ''familiar'' with the ongoing government-to-government discussions on the issue.
The issue erupted recently with a Democratic senator from New York, Charles Schumer, sponsored a bill, popularly referred to as the Border Security Bill, with a lot of gratuitous comments about the nature of Indian IT companies.
Initially he described them as ''chop shops,'' which is a derogatory term for illegal shops that dismember stolen auto cars and sell their parts. Faced with a strong protest from India he amended his comment and insisted Indian IT companies were actually ''body shops.''
"I do want to clarify a previous remark which characterized these firms where I labelled them as 'chop shops.' That statement was incorrect, and I wish to acknowledge that. In the tech industry, these firms are known as 'body shops.' That is what I should have said, and that is what they are," Schumer said in his remarks on the senate floor.
President Barack Obama signed into law this same bill, officially labelled as the "Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010." The Bill intends to secure the US's borders with Mexico and seeks its funding from revenues generated by a hike in the visa fees, primarily from H-1B work visas.