Washington: Indian Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley had on Thursday voiced his concern over the hike of visa fee by the United States. Mr Jaitley said that the hike in visa fee is discriminatory and largely affects the Indian IT professionals.
The Indian Finance Minister is currently on an official trip to the Washington DC to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other sessions.
Referring to the Visa issue, Jaitley said that the hike in H-1B and L1 visa fee is largely targeted at Indian IT companies and and reiterated that targeting a few nations for commercial exploitation is not a moral act.
Last year, the US Congress imposed a special fee of up to $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas — popular among Indian IT companies — to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system. As per the industry estimates, Indian professionals have contributed more than $25 billion to the US Social Security during the last decade, without being able to retrieve their contributions.
Mr Jaitley also underlined the need for an early conclusion of Totalisation agreement during a bilateral meet with the US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman. The Totalisation agreement is expected to benefit Indians working in America. However, the agreement has been pending for a long time with the US negotiating over a few key proposals of the pact.
Totalisation agreement is nothing but a special agreement between the US and other nations, for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes. Under this, professionals of both the countries would be exempted from various social security taxes, when they go to work for a short period of time in other country.
In addition, the two countries are also struggling to define a Bilateral Investment Treaty to protect investments.