India on Saturday expressed desire to resolve the recent visa fee hike issue before the visit of U.S. President, Barak Obama to India in November saying it would not let the matter to “stick out like a sloth arm.”
“Everybody is looking for a reasonable way to have this matter resolved amicably. Nobody wishes to have this festering as a wound especially because there is Mr. Obama's visit,'' Commerce Secretary, Rahul Khullar told journalists here on Saturday.
He said the issue also needs to be resolved because in two weeks from now the Joint Trade Policy Forum (TPF) meeting is scheduled. He said last week several Americans, including Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Punke and Florida Senator George Lemieux, met him and discussed the matter. The U.S. had recently hiked the fee for certain categories of H-1B and L-1 visas by at least $2,000 for the next five years.
As per Nasscom's estimates, Indian companies, mostly IT firms, apply for 50,000 visas every year, including H-1B and L-1 visas, besides renewal of old visas. The U.S. has said the hike would help it foot nearly $550 million, out of the proposed expenditure of $600 million, on increasing security along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Will speak for India”
Mr. Khullar said Mr. Lemieux would speak for India as he had a better understanding of why we are distressed by the move. He would get that message conveyed to his colleagues in the Senate as well as the other policy makers in Washington, he added.
‘Will impact firms of Indian origin'
The domestic software industry has raised concerns that the increase in fees will adversely impact companies of Indian origin, which account for about 12 per cent of the total number of visas issued by the U.S. Mr. Khullar also said he discussed the ongoing WTO negotiations with the visiting Americans.