India files WTO complaint over US visa fees for tech workers

AP News
Posted: Mar 04, 2016 11:41 AM

GENEVA (AP) — India has filed a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the United States over its measures raising fees on some applicants for temporary work visas, mostly involving the tech sector.

The Geneva-based body said Friday that India has notified it has started dispute proceedings alleging the U.S. measures are not consistent with Washington's commitments to accept services from other countries.

In its request for consultation, India alleges the U.S. had increased fees for temporary visas in December, officials said. It argues that as a result, some Indians receive unfair treatment compared with Americans in the United States in providing similar services in sectors like computer services.

India in effect is seeking consultations with the U.S. The WTO will make further information available in coming days.

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.

The Indian move is unusual at the WTO, where most disputes involve goods, tariffs and restrictions, not services.

Last summer, the WTO upheld a ruling that India was unfairly blocking imports of U.S. poultry and eggs, which the Obama administration called a major victory that could expand export opportunities for American farmers.