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US visa fee hike could impact economic ties: India

New Delhi, Aug 26: The hike in the US visa fee for foreign skilled workers could impact the wide-ranging bilateral economic relationship with India, parliament was informed Thursday.

"The government has expressed its strong concerns at the legislation, stating that such steps by the US government adversely affect the Indian software industry's interest in the USA and impact the broader bilateral economic relationship," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

He admitted that while the provision is not country-specific, it would disproportionately "affect Indian software companies adversely as a large number of H1B and L visas are availed by them".

US President Barack Obama Aug 13 signed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which will raise funds for border security by increasing the visa fees for foreign workers under H1B and L category.

Krishna said that even while the legislation was under process, the Indian embassy in Washington had taken up the matter with the US administration and key lawmakers. It was also discussed by the Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma with his US counterpart, as well as by the Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with the US ambassador, Timothy Roemer.

"It has been conveyed that the legislation would primarily impact companies of Indian origin and is seen as a discriminatory and protectionist measure," said Krishna.