The US State Department Wednesday allowed some exemptions to President Donald Trump’s June 22 announcement where he’d indicated that the entry of foreign and non-immigrant visa workers will be banned till the end of 2020. The new relaxations allow H-1B and L-1 visa holders to go back to US for continued employment with the same employer.
What does the new travel advisory say?
In its latest travel advisory, the State Department has said that it had decided to allow certain categories of workers and non-immigrant visa holders in “national interest”. For such categories of workers, who are not covered by the presidential proclamation of June 22, neither they nor their spouse or children will be barred from obtaining a visa to travel to the US.
According to the new advisory, H-1B visa holders who are public or private healthcare professionals or are engaged in medical research “in an area with a substantial public health benefit” will be allowed to travel.
Further, H-1B visa holders whose services have been requested by any US government agency such as those working the information technology and support services, will be allowed to go back to the US. Non-government IT workers will be allowed to travel to the US if they are travelling back to resume employment with the same organisation they were before the June 22 proclamation. Technical specialists, senior managers, and other workers whose “travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States” will also be allowed to travel.
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Why did the US change its stand on non-immigrant visas?
In his June 22 proclamation, US President Trump had said he was barring the entry of non-immigrant visa workers as companies had been using the scheme to undercut the jobs available to US workers since the foreign workers were ready to work for a lesser than average salary given to the US worker.
However, global IT companies, industry bodies, and other global tech captains such as Alphabet and Google Inc’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, had then condemned the move and said that the H-1B visa regimes had a net positive impact on the US economy.
“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all,” Pichai had said then on micro-blogging website Twitter.
In its new advisory, the US state department said that some of the IT workers and other H-1B as well as L-1 visa holders were being allowed to return as “forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause financial hardship” to them.
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Does it help Indian H-1B workers?
Barring the fresh H-1B visa holders who would have gotten their visas approved this year after April and would have gone to the US some time in September, IT workers with old H-1B visas issued earlier may get a chance to go back to the US.
This means that companies which require skilled Indian IT workers will be able to hire H-1B workers from the talent pool of visa holders either already residing in the US or those that have come back to India and are ready to go back.
In 2018-19 alone for example, tech giants Google, Facebook, and Apple hired more than 13,000 highly skilled IT employees with H-1B work visas, either directly or from existing H-1B visa holders looking to change jobs and continue their stay in the US, according to the data available from the US Department of Labour.
Apart from that, companies such as Wipro, TCS, and Infosys, which have big contracts from US federal agencies, may also benefit as the new advisory allows workers who travel request is “supported by a request from a US government agency or entity to meet critical U.S. foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations” in areas of IT and tech support.