Visa programme fully consistent with WTO obligations: US

Washington: The US today said its visa programme is fully consistent with WTO obligations as the country received a request for consultations from India on its decision to impose high fees on temporary working visas.

“The United States has received this request for WTO consultations from India, and we look forward to discussing our H-1B visa program with our Indian counterparts,” said Andrew Bates, spokesman for US Trade Representatives.

“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,” Bates said.

India has notified the WTO 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,” the WTO said in a statement.

India has time and again raised serious concerns over the issue saying the move would impact Indian IT professionals.

The statement said that according to India, the US’ measure “appear to be inconsistent” with the global norms.

According to India, it said, the current measures appear to be “inconsistent” with the terms, limitations and conditions agreed to and specified by the US in its commitments under the GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services).

India has asked for consultations with the US under the aegis of the WTO to resolve the issue.

The request for consultations is the first step in a dispute at the dispute settlement system of the WTO.

The US has 10 days to respond to the trade dispute filed by India.