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Border Security Bill Creates Spat With Indian Tech Industry

The $600 million border security bill signed into law by Obama last week is fully funded through a hike to visa fees for companies that send large numbers of workers to the U.S. on temporary worker visas. Indian tech companies and trade officials have said these fees are discriminatory and might violate World Trade Organization rules, creating a tricky situation for the U.S. State Department.

An Indian technology industry trade group called Nasscom has come out hard against the visa hike, arguing the bill will cost Indian tech firms $200 million to $250 million in increased human resource costs each year. Indian Trade Secretary Rahul Khullar said Tuesday the increase in visa fees is “WTO-incompatible,” Bloomberg reported.

The State Department seems eager to mend diplomatic and business problems — a spokesman said Monday the department is looking into these claims and working with Indian officials.

Even if India does not file a WTO dispute against the U.S., Indian experts argue the country should push back against the U.S. for enacting the visa hikes, Indian financial news site Money Control reported today:

Trade experts maintain that India should also explore other options like lobbying through American companies that use services of Indian professionals. In addition, experts also suggest using bilateral forums to negotiate visa related issues for Indian professionals. In the worst case scenario, experts maintain India could retaliate by restricting movement of US businessmen and professionals to India.

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