Congressional leaders, while agreeing on the USD 1.1 trillion spending bill, yesterday decided to impose a special fee of USD 4,000 on certain categories of H-1B visas and USD 4,500 on L-1 visas. The USA House of Representative is slated to vote on the USD 1.1 trillion spending bill deal tomorrow.

The money generated from the special fee, expected to be more than a billion USD per annum, would be used to fund a biometric entry and exit tracking system, in addition to funding health screenings and treatments for 9/11 first responders.

According to the agreed bill, the new USD 4,000 fee would apply to companies having at least 50 employees with 50 percent of their employees on H-1B or L-1 visa. Such companies would have to pay a new fee of USD 4,000 for H-1B visas and USD 4,500 for L-1 visas.

While the specific provisions of the spending bill has no mention of Indian IT companies, the language of the bill has been written in such a way that it would have a big impact on Indian IT companies.

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Though the lawmakers behind the bill described it as a temporary provision, the new H-1B and L-1 visa fee increase is for a period of 10 years as against a previous provision of five years. The previous such provision from 2010 to 2015 of USD 2,000 for H-1B visas lapsed on September 30.

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Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue with US President Barack Obama when the latter telephoned him to thank for his leadership role on achieving the historic agreement on climate change in Paris on December 12.

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