India terms US visa fee hike "discriminatory"

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Anand Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 11: Protesting against the hike on the US visa fees for foreign workers, India termed the bill "discriminatory".

In a statement on Tuesday, Aug 11, the commerce ministry said, "It is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly discriminatory law."

The statement also included excerpts of a letter sent by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Informing Kirk that the bill would cost Indian companies over 200 million dollars a year, in the letter, Mr Sharma argued that the bill unfairly targets Indian companies as US companies like IBM, Microsoft and Intel - which use more foreign-worker visas than Indian companies - would not be liable for the increased fees because a greater proportion of their workers are American.

Indian software services companies pay over $1 billion each year to the US government in the form of Social Security, "with no benefit or prospect of a refund," the minister pointed out.

US' decision to hike fees of visas like H-1B and L-1 irked Indian IT. The row escalated when US Senator Schumer terms Indian companies like Infosys "chop shops".

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