India files trade complaint against U.S. over temporary work visas

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 04, 2016 6:24 AM

By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Rajesh Kumar Singh

ZURICH/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has filed a complaint against the United States over non-immigrant temporary working visas, the World Trade Organization said on Friday.

India has disputed measures that raise the fees for certain categories of temporary work visas and set limits on their numbers, the WTO said in a statement.

The complaint comes days after the United States won a WTO ruling on its challenge to rules about components used in India's solar power program.

In its filing, India said the visa measures seemed inconsistent with commitments the United States had made, because they treat Indians working in sectors such as computer services in the United States less favorably than Americans.

A spokesman for the Indian trade ministry declined to comment on the complaint.

The U.S. Congress in December doubled the cost of sponsoring workers under short-term H1B and L1 visas. Indian business lobby NASSCOM estimated that would inflate the costs for IT exporters by $400 million a year.

Analysts say the measure will cut 50 to 60 basis points off the profit margins of companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys starting this fiscal year, which begins in April.

India is upset that the visa fees were raised without consultation. Its $150 billion outsourcing sector provides about three quarters of the country's revenue from the United States. The outsourcing companies send thousands of staff every year to work at client locations.

The United States has 10 days to respond to the request, which will go to the Dispute Settlement Body if the two countries cannot reach an agreement.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Larry King)