Reconsider hike in visa fees: India to US

March 18th, 2011 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 18 (IANS) India has asked the United States to go beyond just assurances and do something tangible to address the concerns of Indian corporates over a hike in the fees for H-1B and L1 visas.

“We have made it amply clear that they have to do something tangible now, because it can’t carry on in terms of assurances,” Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar told reporters here Thursday after talks with US officials.

“If this doesn’t get done then this problem will fester,” said Khullar who was here for the launch of the first India-US commercial dialogue here co-chaired by US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J. Sanchez.

The Indian official said that he had conveyed to the US authorities Indian software firms’ concerns that the new visa regulations had not only hiked the fees but made it tougher to get H-1B visas for highly skilled professionals and even L1 visas for inter-corporate transfers.

“India has been given assurances by the US that they would do something, but nothing has been done so far,” Khullar said.

Besides visas, other big ticket issues covered included public procurement, anti-dumping and a totalisation agreement relating to return of social security contributions made by Indian workers once they return to India.

Khullar said the purpose of the dialogue was to further cement the strategic alliance and partnership from the commercial perspective. The second leg of the dialogue would be held in an Indian city sometime in autumn.

Khullar also met Michael Froman, deputy national security advisor, Robert Hormatz, under secretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs; and Deputy US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis.

He also had a round of meetings with US business leaders in Washington and New York.

During calendar year 2010, India-US two-way trade touched $48.75 billion, much higher than the previous record of $43 billion in 2008.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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