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India May Complain to WTO About Rise in US Visa Fees


India says it may lodge a complaint against the United States at the World Trade Organization over an increase in U.S. visa fees that would adversely affect India's information technology sector.

Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar says the U.S. move is "protectionist," and that India cannot "keep quiet" about an issue that hurts its commercial interests.

A new U.S. law calls for visa fees for skilled workers to increase by at least $2,000. Money from the fee increase will be used to boost security along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Indian technology firms that send software developers and other experts to work temporarily in the United States for U.S. customers estimate the higher fees would cost them more than $200 million a year and reduce their ability to compete in the U.S. market.

President Barack Obama signed the new U.S. visa plan into law Friday. Because it applies only to companies whose workforce is more than 50 percent foreign, the new fees would not apply to large U.S.-based firms with mostly American workers.

India's commerce secretary says increasing visa fees in this way would be "WTO incompatible," and that the Indian government is deciding its next course of action.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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