India may drag US to WTO for hiking professional visa fees

New Delhi: India may drag the US to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for its new "protectionist" move in hiking professional visa fees, a step that will make Indian IT companies less competitive in the American market, reports PTI.

The fee hike is expected to cost Indian companies, mainly IT outsourcing firms, about $200 million annually.

India "cannot keep quiet" on an issue that hurts its commercial interests, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said today, making it clear that moving the WTO on the matter is being considered seriously.

"Yes this (visa fee hike) is WTO incompatible... I will take up the matter under advisement," Mr Khullar told reporters when asked if India was considering to drag the US to the WTO on the issue.

Protesting the American move, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma wrote to the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk last week saying that the visa fee hike would cost Indian firms $200 million a year, making them less competitive.

Mr Khullar said the hike in H-1B and L-1 visa fees is a protectionist move that would also hurt the US interest.

"If the US wishes to put up its protectionist barriers to hurt itself let them do it. But where a measure is specifically targeting my commercial interest I cannot keep quiet," the secretary said.

Under the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010-popularly called the Border Security Bill-the US has hiked fee for certain categories of H-1B and L1 visas by at least $2,000 for the next five years.

US says the hike will help it foot nearly $550 million, out of the proposed expenditure of $650 million, on increasing security along the US-Mexico border.

Like India, American Inc has flayed the US government's move, which will hurt Indian IT companies the most, saying that the law would undermine investment relations with India.

Corporate America has come down heavily on all those in the US who, of late, have been alleging that Indian companies grab most of the H-1B work visas and take away American jobs.

In the latest report on immigration, US Chamber of Commerce, which is world's largest chamber with more than three million members, asserted that such allegations against Indian companies is "hyperbole".

However, the US Administration said the measure, "makes sense" and would in no way undermine "robust and vital" ties with India.

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COMMENTS

Shadi Katyal

6 years ago

One reads such stories and wonders if India is till living in cold war age or do we think that world revolves round India?Have we not learnt yet that our negative thinking and anti MNC and west has not provided us any respect.
This is a internal case of US Policy and what gives us any right to go to WTO?
The cases involved are not with H1B Visa holder but to be paid by comapnies involved.
are we so slef distructive that unless we can show our immaturity we cant learn anything. Time for India to keep her lips sealed and face the naked truth.
USA might start bringing Chines,Philippians and other Eastern European H1B visa substitute to show India her place.
Do we wish to shoot ourselves?
Time to show some maturity. dont drill holes in plate where you eat.

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