India will soon file a case in the WTO against visa fee hike by the US,complaining that Indian IT companies face discrimination in regard to their employees who are on short-term contracts in America.
“We have finalised our case. The US visa fee hike is a discriminatory move against Indian IT firms. This week,we will formally file the complaint and seek consultations under WTO,” a senior Commerce and Industry Ministry official said.
As per the procedure of World Trade Organisation (WTO),consultation is the first stage of a complaint filed with the global trade body.
The US had raised visa fee in 2010 to fund its enhanced costs on securing border with Mexico under the Border Security Act. Since then,India has been protesting against the measure.
Consultations give parties to the dispute an opportunity to discuss and resolve the issue without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days,if consultations fail,the complainant may request adjudication by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
The law Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act,2010 has substantially increased the fees for H1B and L1 categories of visas for applicants which employ more than 50 persons in the US or have more than 50 per cent their employees admitted on non-immigrant visas (the
“… This is prima facie discriminatory for Indian companies,” an official said.
The H1B visa fee has been increased significantly to USD 2,000 and L1 to USD 2,700.
Some of the top Indian companies TCS,Infosys,Wipro and Mahindra Satyam were affected by the US action on visa fee. The US is the largest market for the Indian software exports.
However,the large American high-tech corporations which may bring higher numbers of skilled immigrants into the US would not be affected,since vast majority of their workforce is of Americans.