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US Congress passes USD 1.1trn package, increases H1B fee


Washington: The US lawmakers in quick succession today passed a USD 1.8 trillion spending package today, which among other things introduced a hefty USD 4,000 on H-1B visas for Indian IT companies and imposed stringent condition on America’s aid to Pakistan.

The bill which includes a USD 1.1 trillion spending bill that funds the government until September 30, 2016, as well as a USD 680 billion tax package now heads to the White House for the President Barack Obama to sign into a law, which he is expected to shortly.

The bill comes as a shock for the Indian IT companies as they would have to pay millions of dollars while applying for H-1B visas, as they heavily rely of this work visa for highly skilled IT workers to get their work done in the US.

According to the bill they would have to pay an additional USD 4,000 for H-1B visa and USD 4,500 for L1 visa.

The bill, known as an “omnibus” has also made US aid to Pakistan more stringent by asking the secretaries of state and defence to certify the Islamabad is taking actions against terrorist networks and meeting other conditions. But the provision of a national interest waiver nullifies such conditionalities.

Congressional leaders from both the parties hailed the passage of the Omniubus spending bill as a major achievement as lawmakers left for their respective for Christmas.

The omnibus lifts the 40-year-old ban on US crude oil exports while extending solar and wind energy tax credits that Democrats say will create renewable energy jobs and reduce carbon emissions.

The bill also reforms the US visa waiver programme in the wake of deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and intensifies US cyber security efforts.

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