‘H1B visa row in WTO may lead to trade retaliation against US’

‘H1B visa row in WTO may lead to trade retaliation against US’

  • A Congressional report has warned American lawmakers that if visa dispute between India and the U.S. moves to formal settlement phase, it could possibly result in a WTO-authorised trade retaliation against the U.S.
  • This comes months after India dragged the U.S. to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over imposing increased fees on H-1B and L-1 visas.
  • If the dispute moves to the formal dispute settlement panel phase, one potential outcome could be a WTO determination that the disputed statutes are inconsistent with GATS obligations and a recommendation that the U.S. should modify its laws to comply with the GATS.
  • In March 2016, India dragged US to WTO’s dispute settlement body against latter’s measures imposing increased fees on certain applicants for L-1 and H-1B visa category. India stated that move would impact Indian IT professionals.
  • The dispute concerns U.S. immigration laws which increased fees for certain temporary foreign workers and allotted a specific number of temporary worker visas to Chilean and Singaporean nationals.
  • India has alleged that U.S. is violating its obligations under GATS, a binding agreement for all WTO member countries, as well as the GATS Annex on Movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services, to not discriminate against or between non- U.S. service providers.
  • India contends, among other things, that the 2010 and 2015 fee increases do not comply with “most-favoured-nation (MFN) treatment” under GATS, which generally prohibits a WTO member from treating services and service suppliers of one WTO member less favorably than it treats comparable services and suppliers of another.

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