India proposes to take US to WTO

Category: WTO Sub-category: World Trade Organisation
Document type: news

5-Apr-2012 | 2:50 IST | Edited by: Sharmila Maitra

India has proposed to drag US to the WTO claiming "de-facto discrimination" against the Indian software companies which are being asked to pay higher H1B and L1 visa fee for their employees than the American firms for bringing more number of skilled immigrants to their country at lesser costs.

The Department of Commerce is working to build up a case of WTO violations by US resulting from the implementation of the visa fee hike.

It was analyzed that this particular discrimination is the result of the US Border Security Act of 2010. India has been raising its concern for the last 18 months, but no satisfactory response has been received.

The Department of Commerce said that it is the sovereign right of any country to increase visa fee, but the US move is mainly against the Indian IT companies.

Further, they said that the law discriminates between an American and Indian company.  And that this is a breach of national treatment and most favoured nation status.

Moreover, it is observed that the US has continued to impose several new protectionist measures, including increasing the period of applicability of the enhanced visa fees under the law, also known as the James Zadroga Act.

Under this Act, there has been a substantial increase in 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% of their employees admitted on non-immigrant visas.

It was widely acknowledged in the Congressional debate in US that four top Indian companies, namely  TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam - were to pay significantly higher fees.

On the other hand, the large American high-tech corporations which may bring higher numbers of skilled immigrants into the US will not be affected in anyway, since vast majority of their work force is made of Americans.