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    India drops plan to drag US to WTO over visa fee hike

    Synopsis

    "We have dropped plans of taking US to WTO over visa fee hike at the moment," a senior official told ET.

    "We have dropped plans of taking US to WTO over visa fee hike at the moment," a senior official told ET.
    NEW DELHI: India has decided to put on hold its plan to drag the US to the World Trade Organisation for raising the cost of work visas, hoping to resolve the issue bilaterally with the new government after the US presidential elections in November.

    "We have dropped plans of taking US to WTO over visa fee hike at the moment," a senior official told ET on condition of anonymity. "We will wait for the new government to be in place after the elections, as it will be easier for the US to take sensitive decisions when election pressure is off."

    The US had nearly doubled fees for H1-B work permits and L-1 visas--commonly used by Indian IT companies to bring in skilled immigrants--under a 2010 Bill to fund its border securitisation programme. India had termed the move, which hit companies like Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam, as discriminatory.

    India has been threatening to take the US to the WTO over the issue for some time, but did not make a formal complaint as it was not very confident of winning the case.

    "The legal team that was consulted did make a case against the fee hike, but it is feared that it may not be very strong," another official said. "Although most Indian companies have been affected by the Bill, the legislation is not directly aimed at India."

    The commerce department has now asked the ministry of external affairs to take up the issue with the US foreign affairs department. Industry body Nasscom is already talking to some members of the US Senate to garner support.

    "The mood in the US is largely positive about India," the official quoted above said. "We believe that because of the forthcoming elections, the government has not yet responded to our demand." The official said Washington was "fully aware" that the Indian IT industry created a large number of jobs in the country.

    With the Union Cabinet approving a slew of reforms last week, the commerce department is hopeful that it will be easier for the new US government to accede to India's demand.

    2 Comments on this Story

    VG3000 days ago
    I don't see that this is a big deal - all governments are charging outrageous fees including India which requires that any NRI who got a citizenship of another country after Jan 2005 and did not get a 'surrender certificate' will have to pay a PENALTY of $250... The irony and the stupidity of this penalty is that they came up with this penalty requirement only in 2010!!! Any sane person would make this penalty requirement starting from 2010 and not date it back to 2005.
    munna3001 days ago
    even from indian students, US embassy charges 160 dollars visa fees and 180 dollars sevis fees and visa is rejected and money is gone. by contrast indian embassy only charges 63 dollars for american citizens. make the fees equal.we should also charge what they charge. last year US embassy in india collected more then 1000 crore rupees in visa fees only from 7 lakh indians who applied for visa.
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