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U.S. Responds to India’s Request to Rethink H-1B Visa Fee Increase

31 Aug

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said she would look into India’s complaints about America’s decision to raise the cost of applying for some H-1B and other skilled worker visas by thousands of dollars.

India’s commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a news conference on Tuesday that business leaders had raised the issues of the visa-fee increase with Ms. Pritzker during her visit to India, saying they felt they were being targeted, according to a transcript of a joint news conference posted on the U.S. State Department’s website.Ms. Pritzker is on a visit to India with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Indian’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, said at the same news conference that she asked John Kerry for support in resolving the visa-fee issue as well as the problem that Indians have to pay social security taxes in the U.S., even though they will not access to the system after retirement.

A law passed in the U.S. last year ratchets up the cost of applying for H-1B visas used for high-skilled workers and other visas.

Indian outsourcing companies like Infosys Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. use the visas to send their workers to the U.S.

Ms. Pritzker said she didn’t believe Indian companies were being targeted.

“The United States recognizes the enormous contribution of foreign workers to our economy, including in our workers from India,” she said.

However, she did promise to look into India’s complaint.

“Given the concern expressed by Indian industry, I committed to Minister Sitharaman to look into this and to report back, so I will be working with the State Department to understand how we’re implementing the new laws that we have,” Ms. Pritzker said.