The party may soon be over for Indian IT firms such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS, celebrating the lapse of a law that imposed higher visa fees on their employees working in the US.
The James Zadroga Bill that increased fees for H-1B visas by $2,000 and L1 visas by $2,250 may make a quick comeback, in a more onerous form, with pressure groups lobbying for its inclusion in the Omnibus Appropriation Bill this month.
“While some proponents are trying to make the Bill permanent, we are given to understand that it will be for at least five years. What is worse is that lobbying is also on by some Congressmen for doubling the visa fees which will be a double-whammy for our IT industry,” a government official told BusinessLine .
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Bill was passed in September 2010 to pay for the medical bills of the firemen and others who came to the rescue of the 9/11 attack victims. As a higher fee was imposed only on companies that hired more than 50 per cent foreign workers, it was the Indian IT firms that were mostly affected.
The Indian Embassy in the US is reaching out to sympathetic Congressmen and industry organisations, pointing out the negative fallout of the reintroduction of the Bill on the US economy, the official said. New Delhi’s argument is that the Indian IT industry contributes significantly to the US economy by creating jobs and providing cost-effective support to various sectors. The higher visa fee increases transaction costs and hits efficiency.
“Our industry representatives have also got in touch with many Congressmen and senators and are trying to put forth India’s views on these issues,” the official said.
The Omnibus Appropriation Bill, which gives budget authorisation to the US government for the next year, has to be passed this month itself (the original date was December 11).
“The Omnibus Appropriation Bill has to be passed within a specific time-frame as all financial spending of the US government would otherwise come to a halt. Attempts have been made to latch on to this Bill by some Congressmen so that the James Zadroga Bill gets re-introduced within a given time-frame,” the official said.