A $2,000 fee could return on nonimmigrant work visas for Indian IT companies in the United States if a bill to fund healthcare for 9/11 first responders passes Congress, the Economic Times reported.
The affected visas are the H-1B and L-1 work visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily sponsor skilled foreign workers. The bill impacts only those firms that have staff composed of at least 50 percent H-1B or L-1 visa holders, which tend to be large Indian IT services companies.
The move comes as part of the renewal for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to fund healthcare for 9/11 first responders, which expired Oct. 1. The bill, which some lawmakers hope to permanently extend this month, is named after a detective who died from a respiratory illness in 2006. It seeks to provide medical screenings, emergency care and compensation programs to thousands of first responders. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said a provision to extend Zadroga is “very likely” to be included in the spending bill the House votes on later this week, the New York Times reported.
The news also comes amid a renewed effort in the Senate to crack down on H-1B visas. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions filed proposals last week to cut the number of available visas to 70,000 from 85,000 and require employers to guarantee their staff a salary of at least $110,000 — or the same amount they paid an American in a similar job two years before applying for the visa, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The American Jobs First Act of 2015 is a necessary effort to repair the H-1B visa program to prevent it from displacing American workers,” Cruz said in a statement.