HOUSTON – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would increase visa fees for certain companies, making it more expensive to hire foreign workers.
The Indian government blasted the measure as “discriminatory.”
The fee increase is aimed at companies with more than 50 employees that have more than half of them working under H-1B or L visas.
Immigration experts said that would primarily hurt Indian companies – especially Infosys, Tata, Mahinda Satyam and Wipro – which all have offices in Houston.
"This legislation was pretty carefully crafted to probably take within its net only certain companies," said Judy Lee, an immigration attorney with FosterQuan. "Ever since the economy has hit a rough spot, they have been under the microscope by the labor unions, by others that say, ‘Why are so many foreign workers coming in to do the work that we think U.S. workers can do?’"
The vote came after the Senate unanimously passed the measure last week to pay for increased border security. The $600 million spending bill would send more than a thousand Border Patrol agents and inspectors to the southwest border.
A spokesperson for Rep. Pete Olsen (R-Sugar Land) said that while the provision for the visa fee increase “wasn’t ideal,” the bill was necessary to pay for “critically important” border enforcement.