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US talks of difficulty in addressing India`s visa concerns

The US has spoken about difficulty in addressing India`s concerns over visa issues in its comprehensive immigration reform bill and those related to taxation.

Washington: The US has spoken about difficulty in addressing India`s concerns over visa issues in its comprehensive immigration reform bill and those related to taxation.
"Secretary Lew emphasised the difficulty involved, given legal boundaries, on both visas and FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act)," a spokesperson of the Treasury Department said after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met Finance Minister P Chidambaram at the IMF headquarters here.

During the fourth annual meeting of the India-US Economic and Financial Partnership, Chidambaram took up the case of Indian IT companies and Indian concerns on visa issues, in particular those related to H-1B and L-1, in the comprehensive immigration reform bill which is currently being considered by the Congress.

"Our Finance Minister raised the concerns that we have with regard to the visa issues, which is presently of great concern to IT companies and also on issues related to FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), which is likely to come to operation shortly as one of the US laws," Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram told.

"Secretary Lew carefully noted our concerns. They have assured us that within the limitations of the US system and the US laws they will try and see how far they can go to assuage the fears and concerns of the Indians on this," he said in response to a question.

The changes under the Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) put a curb on use of H-1B visa for those companies which have a higher ratio of work force under this category. Most of the Indian companies will fall under this classification.

The companies will also have to shell out more fee to get a H-1B visa, if the draft legislation is cleared by the Congress and is signed into law by US President Barack Obama.

"There was a broad spectrum of discussion between the Finance Minister and the Secretary of Treasury. It covered the entire gamut of economic and financial relationship which included areas of anti-money laundering and financing for terror," Mayaram said.

Broadly there was understanding that there will be deepening of the bilateral relationship ties, Mayaram said.

From the US side, Lew raised the issues of taxation and intellectual property rights.

"The Finance Minister explained to them how our laws are fully complaint with the WTO (World Trade Organisation) and that the decisions of the Government of India on several issues including compulsory licensing were very much in line with international practice," Mayaram said.

On the speeding up of the Indian structural reform RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and also SEBI Chairman U K Sinha explained to the US delegation, which among others included Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, that large number of reform measures have been taken and how doing business in India has been improved.

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