New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister
Anand Sharma will take up the visa fee hike issue during his
visit to the US next month, with India hopeful that the matter
can be resolved bilaterally.
"When you have trouble with someone, how many times you
go running to a court," Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar said,
indicating that the matter, which could hurt the interests of
Indian professionals, is likely to be resolved bilaterally.
Terming the hike in H-1B and L1 visa fees as WTO-
incompatible, he said India cannot "sit by" on an issue that
hurts its commercial interests.
"If somebody is going to restrict my (India) provision
and harm my commercial interest through regulation, then they
should know we will not sit by and watch," Khullar said.
He said the matter is being pursued through diplomatic
When asked if the minister will raise the issue with the
US authorities during his visit, Khullar said: "Do you think
he (Sharma) will not talk about the issue?"
Protesting the American move, Sharma had written to US
Trade Representative Ron Kirk early this month saying that
the visa fee hike would cost Indian firms an additional USD
200 million a year, making them less competitive.
Under the Emergency Border Security Supplemental
Appropriations Act, 2010 -- popularly called the Border
Security Bill -- the US has hiked the fee for certain
categories of H-1B and L1 visas by at least USD 2,000 for the
next five years.
The domestic software industry has raised concerns that
the increase in fees will adversely impact companies of Indian
origin, which account for about 12 per cent of the total
number of visas issued by the US.