Border security bill discriminatory: India to US
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Last Updated: Friday, August 20, 2010, 09:39
  
Washington: The provisions of the border security bill, which allows massive increase in the fees on categories of H-1B and L1 visas, is discriminatory against the Indian companies, India has said and asked the United States to amend it.

Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar had lodged an official protest to the US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk in a letter dated August 9, about five days before Obama signed the border security bill into law ignoring India's concerns.

The letter, a copy of which is in possession with the a news agency, has been sent this week to the US Congress informing the lawmakers the views of Indian Government on the issue.

The US President Barack Obama, last week, had signed the bill into the law.

"We feel that the 'pay for' provisions of the Bill are not in keeping with the substantive cooperative agenda which the two governments are pursuing. We would ask that those provisions of the Bill that discriminate against companies of Indian origin may be suitably amended to create a level playing field for all companies," Shankar said.

The 'pay for' provisions of the Bill, Shankar said, stipulate that the amount for the security of US-Mexico border would be provided through higher fees on H1B and L visas from those applicants who employ 50 and more people and 50 percent of whom are non-immigrants in H-1B or L visa categories.

"Even though the Bill doesn't mention Indian companies specifically, the manner in which it is currently worded appears to be aimed at Information Technology companies from India, creating an unequal playing field," Shankar said.

"The impact on Indian companies of the higher fee increases would be substantial. While we appreciate and understand the US desire to strengthen Border Security, we have concerns about the proposed funding mechanism," the Indian Ambassador said days ahead of the bill being signed.

However, the Obama Administration decided to ignore the concerns of India on this issue.

Noting that India and the US have a strategic partnership and the trade and economic engagement is deepening and widening, she said Indo-US overall trade in goods and services is balanced.

"Indian leadership is looking forward to a successful visit of the US President later this year. Indian Industry has played a constructive role in the US economy. Several Indian companies have invested billions of dollars in the US economy and have created thousands of jobs in the US. Bilateral trade creation, especially in high technology trade, including in Civil Aviation and Defense, is responsible for further job creation in the US economy," Shankar said.

There was no immediate response from the office of US Trade Representatives.

PTI


First Published: Friday, August 20, 2010, 09:39


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