India Files WTO Complaint Against US Over H-1B Visa Fee Increases

India has filed a World Trade Organization (WTO) complaint with the United States over the recent U.S. law raising H-1B visa fees for certain companies. The new law, made effective December 18, 2015, now requires certain companies to pay an additional $4,000 in application fees, affecting mainly information technology workers coming to the U.S. from India, from which the greatest number of H-1B applications are submitted each year.

Affected companies include those with more than 50 employees applying for H-1B visas, when more than half of existing employees already hold an H-1B visa.

Complaint Against US Over H-1B Visa Fee Increase

In its complaint to the World Trade Organization, India has claimed that the new fee measures are discriminatory, treating persons from India working in IT sectors in the U.S. less favorably than Americans. The complaint marks the beginning of a 60-day period in which India and the United States may negotiate a resolution.

If the United States and India do not reach a negotiated agreement by April 30, 2016, the dispute will proceed to the next stage in the complaint process with the World Trade Organization.

Background on H-1B Visa Fee Increase

The H-1B Visa Program is supposed to be used by U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in “specialty occupations” that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields where the workers are not available in the United States.

Before implementing the new fees, the U.S. government came under increasing pressure from American interests, who accused companies of misusing the intent of the H-1B visa rules to bring in workers from other countries who would work for less money. In just one example from 2014, Eversource, a Fortune 500 company, allegedly fired 200 American information technology workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts to replace them with similarly skilled, lower-paid non-immigrant worker visa holders.

For more details about the fee increases, read the formal USCIS announcement regarding the H1B & L1 Visa Fee Increases.