A $2,000 H-1B fee on Indian firms may return

Lawmakers may restore visa fee that funds 9/11 healthcare act

A special $2,000 H-1B fee imposed on large Indian offshore firms but allowed to lapse may return in the spending bill being negotiated by Congress.

The fee was first imposed in 2010 but expired at the start of the new federal fiscal year.

This extra fee applies to companies with at least 50% of their employees on H-1B visa or L-1 visas, and is in addition to the other fees paid by employers. Because of its 50% threshold, it mostly hits the large Indian IT services firms, the leading users of the H-1B visa.

It’s now believed that congressional negotiators are seeking to restore the fee, and possibly even broaden it, according to sources.

On Friday, the House approved a stop-gap spending bill that gives lawmakers until Wednesday to approve a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government.

The extra H-1B fee was used to help fund the James Zadroga 9/11 Victims Health and Compensation Act, which is also up for renewal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) recently indicated support for the Zadroga bill extension, but did not detail funding sources. Sources say the expectation is that the Zadroga bill will be partially funded, once again, by the visa fee.

NASSCOM, India’s IT industry trade group, said the fee raised between $70 million and $80 million annually and has called this targeted fee unjustified.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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