Failed WTO talks could tighten H-1B norms

Via The Financial Express

Expressing disappointment over the failed World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks for a global trade deal, the US on Monday said one of the main casualties was in was the relaxation of rules regarding H-1B visas or the non-immigrant visa that is meant for skilled workers.

Speaking at at seminar organized by CII, US department of commerce assistant secretary (market access and compliance) David Bohigian said, “India missed an opportunity by not being able to get past the Special Safeguard Mechanism, to discuss other market opening issues.”

“One casualty is that H-1B visas in Mode 4 ((movement of professionals across borders to supply services) and the potential to raise the cap on H1B visas is not being discussed anymore. These issues are important for India’s future. We hope that India returns to the table seeking an ambitious result in Doha Round,” he said.

He also added that the failure of the WTO talks led to the missing of a major opportunity to liberalise the multilateral trading system that could have helped hundreds of people in the agricultural and manufacturing sector. The US issues around 65,000 H-1B visas annually to permit foreign professionals to take up temporary work in America.

During the Services Signalling conference held last month at WTO headquarters in Geneva as part of the ministerial meeting, the US had showed willingness to discuss temporary entry of foreign professionals. Also, the EU expressed readiness to make commitments on free movement of skilled personnel across borders.India pushed for market access for its services in the developed world, especially on free movement of service suppliers across borders and outsourcing. The offers or signals made at the Signaling Conference however, has no legal binding and therefore would not be the final stand of the countries on services.

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