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Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley calls H1B & L-1 visa fee hike discriminatory, says it targets Indian IT companies

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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley has expressed concern over the hike in the U.S. visa fee, calling it “discriminatory,” and saying it unfairly targets Indian IT professionals.

During a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman, Jaitley called for a quicker resolution to Totalization Agreement which would benefit Indians working in America. While addressing his concerns surrounding the visa program, he spoke about “India’s concern over the hike in the H-1B and L1 visa fee, which is discriminatory and in effect is largely targeted at Indian IT companies.”

Last year, congress imposed a special fee of up to $4,500 on H-1B and L-1 visas — two of the most popular among Indian engineers — to fund a 9/11 healthcare Act and biometric tracking system. While agreeing on the terms of the $1.1 trillion spending bill, congressional leaders decided to impose the special fees on H-1B and L-1 visas.

According to industry estimates, Indian professionals contributed more than $25 billion to U.S. social security in the past decade, without being to retrieve their contributions. Jaitley’s calling for a solution to the Totalization Agreement — an agreement the U.S. enters into with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes — would fix this issue.

Under Jaitley’s proposal, professionals from both countries would be exempt from social security taxes while working for a short period of time in the other’s country. The two countries are also engaged in negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty to protect investments.

The finance minister also emphasized the importance of sustaining engagement and fostering further growth in trade and investments between the two countries as key elements, saying India looks forward to strengthening and deepening this economic engagement. Jaitley is currently traveling through Washington D.C. to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other sessions.

Traveling with him are RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, and Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and other officials.

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Missing Hindu woman found mutilated in Pakistan

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The mutilated body of a Hindu woman was found in a field in southeastern Pakistan. Police say 40 year old Daya Bheel was murdered in the latest suspected attack against minorities in the Muslim-majority country. Authorities say they have arrested some suspects but have not determined a motive.

The Khosla family has donated nearly 2 million dollars to the Nudge Institute to help fight poverty. The philanthropists have donated millions of dollars for many other causes.

And disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-fried pleaded not guilty to eight different counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy before a U.S. federal court in the Southern District of New York. U.S. prosecutors allege that under Bankman-Fried’s direction, FTX, once considered one of the largest and most-trusted cryptocurrency exchanges, transferred billions in customer assets to his trading firm, Alameda Research. If convicted of these charges, Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years in prison.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Christmas crash kills Indian American toddler

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Tragic news out of Nevada. Authorities say an Indian American toddler has died in a devastating Christmas day car crash and his mother is in critical condition fighting for her life. Authorities say the accident happened on a busy Las Vegas boulevard and they were returning home from a trip in California.

Anil Beephan is now the first Indian American Republican ever to be elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany. So far only Indian American Democrats have been elected to the state legislature. Beephan will also become the first minority to represent Dutchess County and at 29 years old, he’s the youngest GOP rep in the state legislature. He’s currently in the tech industry and has also worked as a volunteer firefighter.

Vice President Kamala Harris has named Indian American Rajeev Badyal to a key national advisory group, responsible for strategy and recommendations to improve and maintain space policy. Badyal already works for Amazon, helping launch satellites into orbit. 

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Warriors host first-ever Bhangra Night

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The Golden State Warriors first-ever Bhangra Night made its debut during the Warriors-Jazz game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors say it’s a chance for the team to connect with the Bay Area’s rapidly growing South Asian community and fan base. Only Diya TV was on hand to capture the festivities. This change from the annual Bollywood night was supposed to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.

A federal jury in San Francisco has convicted Sivannarayana Barama of insider trading. Authorities say he used the quarterly financial performance of Palo Alto Networks before that information was released to the public and then traded in that company’s stock while that information was still confidential. Barama worked in IT for several Silicon Valley companies.

U.S. Border Patrol caught more than 4000 Indians illegally crossing the Mexico border in October and November. That’s more than double compared to the same time frame last year. An Indian man recently died climbing a border wall in Texas. The Biden administration is struggling to contain a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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