India, US to discuss H1B visa fee hike

India-US H1B visa hike

The H1B visa issue, which has been a major point of contention between India and the US, will be taken up during a two-day bilateral consultation from May 11. The consultations will be held under the aegis of the WTO over the US decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas.

India had taken the US to the WTO’s dispute settlement body in March after the US imposed increased fees on certain applicants for the L-1 and H1B categories. India raised concerns about the move and said that it would impact Indian IT professionals. “The government of India looks forward to the consultations with the US at the WTO”, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

India has expressed hope that the US will engage constructively to address India’s concerns regarding recent US measures which impact both US-based Indian companies and Indian professionals to supply services in America.

The H1B and LI categories are most extensively used by the Indian services sector, especially in IT, which supplies services in the US. The two countries have a strong collaboration in trade and services. The US accounts for nearly 60 percent of software exports from India. Indian IT professionals have a significant role in contributing to the competitiveness of the US economy. “The increasing volume of services trade has contributed to significant economic growth as well as creation of employment opportunities within the US”, the statement said.

“The situation therefore, presents a win-win relationship for both nations. The US fee hike measures for the H1B and L-1 categories are not only adversely affecting the competitiveness of India’s services industry engaged in the US market, but also creating uncertainties for Indian service suppliers”, the statement added.

The issue of temporary work visas is often raised by US politicians during elections and as the country heads to elections in November, presidential aspirants have been high on rhetoric on the issue to cater to their core constituents.

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