India moves WTO against US on temporary working visa fee hike


Inda takes US to WTO over visa fee hike

Taking the US head-on over the increase in visa fee hike, India has complained to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the US decision. India has challenged the US over its recent increase in fees for categories of non-immigrant temporary visas, which has impacted India’s Information Technology (IT) sector adversely.

The H1B and L1 visas, most popular visa categories among the technology firms in India, have been hiked significantly, which has not gone down well with the Indian companies. These visa categories are used to hire workers from abroad by companies located in the US. The issue has been contentious in the Indo-US relation.

India has moved the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, and said that the US measures appear to be inconsistent with earlier commitments on treating foreign guest workers with respect. The complaint is valid for a 60-day period, and India has the right to ask WTO to rule on it after this span of time.

Impact of visa fee hike

The hike in fees came as a setback for the Indian IT companies as they are now required to pay millions of dollars while applying for H-1B visas, as they heavily rely on this work visa for highly skilled IT workers to get their work done in the U.S.

The US Congress approved a quota of 65,000 H-1B visas, which was exhausted in the first few days after the application process began on April 1, 2015.

Indian employees in leading tech firms go to the US on H-1B and L1 visas, and they also pay Social Security and Medicare charge as part of their pay role. This costs more than $1 billion per annum.

According to a report issued by NASSCOM in September 2015, the companies in the tech sector were generating at least 400,000 jobs in the US, out of which around 300,000 were held by either US citizens or permanent residents.