India has launched a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States over its alleged measures raising fees on some applicants for temporary work visas, mostly involving the tech sector.
The Geneva based WTO also responded by saying that India has notified it that it has started dispute proceedings alleging the US action is not consistent with Washington’s commitments to accept services from the other countries. Importantly, in 2015 the US has doubled the fee required to apply for an H1-B visa, a class of temporary visa for skilled workers. The H-1B Visa fees have risen to around USD 4,000 per application, ever since.
In its request for consultation, India alleged that "it has initiated a WTO dispute proceeding against the US regarding measures imposing increased fees on certain applicants for L-1 and H-1B categories of non-immigrant temporary working visas into the US, and measures relating to numerical commitments for H-1B visas".
India said as a result of the move, some Indians receive unfair treatment compared with American counterparts in the US, in providing similar services in sectors such as computer services.
Andrew Bates, spokesperson for the U.S. trade representative, confirmed the U.S. had received the request for consultations. "We are confident that the United States' visa program, which was recently updated on a bipartisan basis by Congress, is fully consistent with our WTO obligations," he said.
However, the critics say that the Indian move is atypical at the WTO, where most disputes involve goods, tariffs, and restrictions, not services. The WTO will make further information available in the coming days.