By Shreerupa Mitra-Jha
On 3 March, India initiated dispute proceedings against the US for measures that has increased the fees for L-1 (L1A and L1B) and H-1B categories of non-immigrant temporary visas into the US and, measures related to numerical commitments for H-1B visas.
Both H-1B and L-1 visas are temporary work visas that allow employers to hire foreign workers.
India has argued that the current measures, as with earlier measures, are inconsistent with the terms, limitations and conditions agreed to by the United States in its Schedule of Specific Commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). According to India, US is according less favourable treatment to juridical persons from India having a commercial presence in the US as compared to juridical persons in the US, engaged in providing like services in sectors such as the computer and related services—this is a sector in which the US has taken commitments in its Schedule of Specific Commitments under GATS.
Further, it affects the movement of natural persons seeking to supply services in a manner that is inconsistent with the US’ commitments under GATS, i.e, the Movement of Natural Persons Supplying Services provision. These measures nullify or impair benefits accruing to India, either directly or indirectly, under the GATS. The above-mentioned measures and comparable measures violate several provisions under GATS, India has stated.
Under the Dispute Settlement System of the World Trade Organization, the first step to be taken when a dispute is registered with the WTO Secretariat, are consultations to explore if the matter can be resolved without proceeding further towards litigation. If the consultations fail to yield results then the complainant may request the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to study the matter.
The complaint has to be responded to within 10 days by the concerned party and the parties have to enter into consultations within 30 days of the receipt of the complaint. The parties have 60 days to consult with each other for a resolution unless the parties decide to suspend or extend the consultations.
This is the second dispute for the WTO in 2016.
The writer is a journalist with the United Nations