New York: India has dragged the US to the top global trade arbiter over a dispute over an increase in the fees of temporary working visas, the World Trade Organisation said on Friday.
India has filed a complaint against the US for imposing increased fees on certain categories of temporary work visas for the US and limits on their numbers, a move that has hit India's export-driven IT outsourcing firms, reports the BRICS post.
A WTO statement said India has alleged these measures appear inconsistent with commitments that the US has made by treating persons from India working in sectors such as computer services less favourably than US citizens.
The US had 10 days to respond to the request, which will go to the Dispute Settlement Body if India and the US cannot come to a satisfactory agreement.
The US Congress in December doubled the cost of sponsoring workers under short-term H1B and L1 visas, and spurred concerns of future curbs on IT workers sent overseas by US companies before the US presidential election.
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.
According to India, the statement 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.
India had serious objections over the US move to hike professional visa fees in 2010 as well.