The increase in H-1B visa fee, which has rattled the Indian IT industry, has not affected the number of visa petitions or commercial transactions, according to Minister-Counselor for Consular Affairs at the US Embassy, Joseph M Pomper. It is Pomper’s first visit to Bengaluru after taking over as minister-counselor in charge operations of India’s five US consular offices.
When the US government increased the H-1B fee twofold in December last year to $4,000, Indian IT majors were taken aback. The Economic Times quoted experts as saying that this measure would make the Indian IT industry pay taxes of around $400 million. In addition, the fee for certain L1 visas – usually for intra-company transfers – was hiked by $4,500.
Pomper, commenting that India was a jewel crown in the H-1B visa segment, said that 70 percent of the total H-1B visas across the world are taken by Indian companies. On the other hand, 30 percent of LI visas are also bagged by Indian firms. The hike was not about India, but it was a worldwide fee, said Pomper. It is because that Indians use these visa categories the most, it hit them, he added.
Pomper said though there were no plans of setting up new consulates in India, the existing ones in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata are not able to deal with the increasing demand, Pomper admitted. According to him, 1.1 million visas issued in India in 2015 were the highest ever.
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