New Delhi, May 9: India has been constantly taking up the US visa fee hike matter with the American authorities and the country has also raised the matter in the WTO's dispute settlement body, Parliament was informed today.
The increase in H-1B and L-1 visa fee issue has been raised with the US at various levels including by the Prime Minister with the US President and recently by the Finance Minister with the US Trade Representative, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
She said that the ministry has raised the issue on several occasions "highlighting the negative impact of the hike in visa fee, particularly on Indian IT companies".
In a letter to US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson, "it was requested not to incorporate such discriminatory and punitive measures into legislations without due process of notice and comment, as it would seriously impede the on going efforts to take the India-US bilateral trade and investment relationship forward".
"India has also taken up the matter on US visa fee hike in the dispute settlement body of the WTO," she said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
The US has informed that the visa fee hike has been done through a legislative action and the role of administration is quite limited, she said.
On December 18, 2015, the US President signed into law, which doubled the supplemental visa fee for H-1B and L-1 visas for a period of 10 years for companies employing 50 or more employees in the US, 50 per cent of which are on these visas. With this legislation in place, 50:50 companies would now need to pay an enhanced fee of USD 4500 for each L-1 visa nd USD 4000 for each H-1B visa as compared to USD 2250 and USD 2000 previously.
According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services data, she said the USCIS has received 124,000 H-1B visa application for 2013-14, 175,500 H-1B for 2014-15, 233,000 for 2015-16 and 236,000 for 2016-17.