Modi Obama H1-B visas
[Representational Image] A resolution supporting India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was reportedly introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressmen Frank Pallone and Ami Bera on Wednesday. Picture: Obama meets with Modi at the climate change summit in Paris, November 30, 2015.Reuters

When US President Barack Obama called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to hail India's 'critical role' in the Paris climate deal, the latter also raised the issue of the proposed fee hike on H-1B and L-1 visas that will impact the IT industry. 

The US Congress has proposed a special fee of $4,000 on certain categories of H-1B visas and $4,500 on L-1 visas to fund a $1.1 trillion spending package, which will be put to vote in the US House of Representatives on Friday.  

The special fee will apply to companies with 50 or more employees in the US and at least 50% of their employees on H-1B or L-1 visa, thus mainly affecting Indian IT companies which largely use the non-immigrant visas. 

The 'language of the bill' indicates that it will impact only Indian companies, the Press Trust of India reported. 

"The Prime Minister shared with President Obama the concerns of the Indian IT industry and professionals on the proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress relating to H1B and L1 visas," the Prime Minsiter's Office said on Wednesday. 

The previous outsourcing fee for H-1B visas, which are non-immigrant visas that allow US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations, was $2,000, while the fee for L-1 visas, which are meant for intra-company transfers, was $2,250. These fees lapsed on 30 September. 

The fee hike has been proposed to fund, among other thing, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is meant to provide lifetime medical care to 9/11 first responders, as well as a biometric tracking system. 

The move comes just a week after two US senators filed a bill to cut H-1B visas by 15,000 from the current 85,000 a year.

Among the top companies that receive H1-B visas are the three Indian IT giants - Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, and Infosys, according to The New York Times

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