NEW DELHI: The Indian government protested to Washington against what it called a highly discriminatory US immigration bill that will double the cost of work visas for some high-profile Indian companies.
Indian outsourcing companies have come under criticism from some US politicians who say they increase unemployment by outsourcing jobs to foreign workers.
The US House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a $600 million border security bill to send more federal agents to the Mexican border, to help tackle the politically sensitive issue of illegal immigrants ahead of Nov. 2 elections.
Funds for the bill will be raised through visa fee hikes that US Senate aides say would affect India's Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam.
India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma wrote to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk expressing serious concern over the proposed legislation.
"Though the need of the US government to strengthen their border security is understandable, it is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly discriminatory law," he said, according to a government statement.
Sharma said the bill would cost Indian companies an extra $200 million a year and hurt the competitiveness and commercial interests of those sending professionals to undertake projects locally for American clients in the United States.
The US Senate approved the border security measures last week and the sponsor, New York Democrat Charles Schumer, said the bill was also targeted a small group of companies that he said exploited US law to import workers from abroad.
Infosys said the visa fee hike would over time be passed on to customers as it was an industry wide issue. Its chief executive Senapathy Gopalakrishnan said the new fees would in the immediate future have a minimal impact on India's second largest outsourcer.