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US hikes visa fee, move to hurt Indian IT firms

As per the new fee plan employers filing visa processing requests will have to shell out an $555 (21 per cent increase) for H-B visas, and $850 (75 per cent increase) for L visas

US hikes visa fee, move to hurt Indian IT firms

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved the new fee plan on July 31

The US government has hiked the H-1B and L visa fees by 21 per cent and 75 per cent. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved a final rule on Friday permitting an increase in fees for non-immigration work visas by 21-75 per cent, effective from October (2020).

This development comes even as DHS, which handles the visa process and depends on income from visa fees, has urged the Congress for emergency funding of $1.2 billion following a steep decline in visa processing owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the new fee plan approved by DHS on July 31, employers filing visa processing requests will have to shell out an $555 (21 per cent increase) for H-B visas, and $850 (75 per cent increase) for L visas, the Economic Times reported.

Also Read: US decision to suspend H1-B, other visas to cost just Rs 1,200 crore to $97 billion IT industry

The rule change that was first proposed in November 2019, intends to "align visa fees with the time agency offices spend adjudicating petitions and applications." The new rule plan will be published in the Federal Register on August 3 and its execution will be carried out 60 days after publication, the news report added.

"USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis," Joseph Edlow, acting head at USCIS, told the publication. He further added that these overdue adjustments in fees "are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation's lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans".

The new rule will significantly impact the Indian IT and service companies, as many of these firms have hired over 50 per cent of employees on an H-1B or L-1 visa. These companies will now have to shell out an additional $4,000-5,000 for each visa extension, the report stated. Industry associations such as NASSCOM have filed their protest against this additional charge with the DHS, terming the move "illegal".

Also Read: H-1B visa ban: US business groups sue Trump govt over worker visa rules

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