India proposes to seek consultations with US on visa fee issue
New Delhi: India proposes to take the US to WTO against the latter's visa fee hike, which discriminates Indian software companies from American firms.
"Department of Commerce proposes to seek consultations with the USA under the Dispute Settlement Understanding of WTO," Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scinida said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Consultations give the parties an opportunity to discuss the matter and to find a satisfactory solution without proceeding further with litigation. After 60 days, if consultations fail to resolve the dispute, the complainant may request adjudication by a panel.
Scindia said an American law (Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010) has substantially increases the fees for H1B and L1 categories of visas for applicants that employ more than 50 employee in the US or have more than 50 percent of their employees admitted or non-immigrant visas (the "50/50 rule").
"... Which is prima facie discriminatory for Indian companies," he said.
Scindia said that Indian firms including TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Mahindra Satyam which fall under the '50/50 rule' appear liable to pay higher visa fees.
He added that "no comments can be made on the exact impact on the US firms of the above US law at this stage".
In an another reply, Scindia said India and Pakistan have set up joint working groups for trade in power and petroleum products.
"Trade in petroleum products is ongoing between both countries. Trade in power would first require the building of transmission connectivity. No decision has been taken for such transmission corridor," he added.