India moves WTO against US on temporary working visa rules


India has dragged the US to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the US decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas, a move that makes Indian IT companies less competitive in that market.

India has notified the WTO that "it has initiated a WTO dispute proceeding against the US regarding measures imposing increased fees on certain applicants for L-1 and H-1B categories of non-immigrant temporary working visas into the US, and measures relating to numerical commitments for H-1B visas," the WTO said in a statement.

India has time and again raised serious concerns over the issue saying the move would impact Indian IT professionals.

The statement said that according to India, the US' measure "appear to be inconsistent" with the global norms.

According to India, it said, the current measures appear to be "inconsistent" with the terms, limitations and conditions agreed to and specified by the US in its commitments under the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).

India has asked for consultations with the US under the aegis of the WTO to resolve the issue.

The request for consultations is the first step in a dispute at the dispute settlement system of the WTO.

Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. If consultations fail to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request the Dispute Settlement Body to establish a panel of experts to study the dispute.

The US has 10 days to respond to the trade dispute filed by India.

In 2010 also, India had serious objections over the US move to hike professional visa fees.

Last year, US President Barack Obama had signed into law a US $1.8 trillion spending package which among other things introduces a hefty US $4,000 fee for certain categories of H-1B visa and US $4,500 for L1 visa.

Companies having more than 50 employees and having more than 50 per cent of their US employees on H-1B and L1 visas would have to pay the new fee when the next visa application session kicks off on April 1.

Terming the hike under the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act as highly discriminatory, IT industry body Nasscom had said that the move would have an impact India's technology sector.

Industry chamber Ficci too had said the hike in special fee on the popular H-1B and L-1 visas for the Act will hamper the growth of the US economy and will be discriminatory for Indian IT companies.

Posted By: chandrika

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