Some relief for Indians as Trump allows certain exemptions in H-1B, L-1 ban2 min read . Updated: 13 Aug 2020, 12:54 PM IST
- The US State Department said H-1B and L-1 visas can now be issued for employees who are seeking to resume ongoing employment in the country in the same position with the same employer and visa classification
Bengaluru: In what could be a respite for Indian IT professionals and those working in the healthcare sector in US, the Trump administration has announced certain exemptions in H-1B and L-1 travel ban for those continuing employment with the same employer.
The exemptions come after the June 22 Presidential Proclamation and also include family members of the H-1B, L-1 and certain categories of J1 visas. US President Donald Trump, in his June proclamation, banned the entry into the US of workers in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including the H-1B, arguing that they were eating into American jobs during the covid-19 pandemic.
The State Department said in its advisory that H-1B and L-1 visas can now be issued for employees who are “seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification." Forcing employers to replace existing employees may cause financial hardship, it said.
Analysts believe that some relaxations are bound to be made. “It is impossible to locally develop the high-end skillsets overnight," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO & chief analyst, Greyhound Research. “Outsourcing helps American companies save costs and achieve scale."
IT industry apex body Nasscom earlier stated there was a huge shortage of STEM skills in the US, that workers on visas like H-1B and L-1 help bridge. Unemployment rate for computer occupations (those most common among H-1B visa holders) declined from 3% in January to 2.5% in May, while unemployment rate for all other occupations grew from 4.1% in January to 13.5% in May.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations. Indian IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Ltd, Infosys Ltd, and Wipro Ltd are few of the highest users of this visa category.
All those on H-1B visas working in the healthcare sector, especially those related to the Covid-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit (e.g. cancer or communicable disease research) are also exempted from the July 22 travel ban.
Further, new factors have been set forth to also allow H-1B visas to be issued when at least two of the five indicators are met, the State Department said.
The exemptions for L1 visas are mostly similar to that of the H-1B. L-1A applicants seeking to establish a new office in the US likely do not fall into this category, unless two of the three criteria are met and the new office will employ, directly or indirectly, five or more US workers, the State Department said.
The national interest exemptions are also available to their spouses and depended as well, it said. These include those on H-4, L-2 and J-2 visas. National interest exceptions are available for those who will accompany or follow to join a principal applicant who is a spouse or parent and who has been granted a national interest exception to the presidential proclamation.
(PTI contributed to this story)