Will look into concerns on visa fee: US assures India

Wednesday, Aug 31, 2016,13:12 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The US today assured India it will look into concerns related to visa fee hike while maintaining that the decision was not targeted against Indian professionals.

Citing data, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said Indians were major “beneficiaries” as about 69 per cent of US H1B visas and 30 per cent of all L1 visas were issued to them last year.
“Any changes that have been made towards H1B and L1 visa applications… they are not limited or focused on Indian nationals. They are really across the board change.

“But given the concerns expressed by Indian industry, I committed to Minister (Nirmala) Sitharaman to look into this and report back,” she said.

Pritzker was responding to a question on visa at a joint press conference by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Sitharaman.

Sitharaman said the visa issue was raised during the 2nd Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) as well as in the CEO Forum.

“Secretary Pritzker came forward proactively and spent some time (with industry representatives) and then she has offered that she will look into this matter definitely…,” Sitharaman said.

The minister said there was a “feeling” and “impression” that probably the Indian industries are being targeted due to increase in the US visas fee.

Sitharaman further said to dispel the feeling of being “targeted”, Pritzker came up voluntarily during the CEO Forum meeting and assured to look into the visa issue.
“We did raise it (visa issue). We voiced our concerns. We gave estimates as to what damage it has given to industry,” she added.

India has time and again raised the issue of hike in visa fees by the US. It has also filed a case in the WTO against the US decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas.
During the joint presser, External Affairs Minister Swaraj too said she has sought Secretary Kerry’s support for resolution of long-pending issues of totalisation and the fee hike for H1B and L1 visa that impact people-to-people exchanges, “which is a vital source of strength for our relationship”.