The administration of United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday made some relaxations in the rules for H-1B work visa and said it would allow visa holders to enter the country if they were returning to the same jobs they had prior to the ban. A notice by the US State Department said this was done as “forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause financial hardship”.
The administration also allowed entry to technical specialists, senior-level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.
It also allowed travel of visa holders who are employed in the “critical infrastructure sectors”. This includes, defence healthcare and public health and information, among others.
However, the notice said that employment in a critical infrastructure sector alone was not sufficient and added that applicants should meet either of two conditions: They should have a senior position within the petitioning organisation or job duties reflecting functions that are both unique and vital to the management. Second, the applicant’s proposed job duties and specialised qualifications indicate the “individual will provide significant and unique contributions” to the company.
Additionally, the administration also allowed travel of visa holders who are working as public health or healthcare professional, or researcher to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit.
On June 23, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order to suspend several categories of foreign work visas, including the H-1B visa that is highly sought-after by Indian IT professionals, till the end of 2020. Trump’s decision came amid a sharp increase in the unemployment rate in the US due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move has met with protests from Indians, who have received as much as 70% of H-1B visas over the past five years. In July,a group of Indians on H-1B visa held a protest rally in Washington DC, demanding immigration law reform. Before that, a group of 174 Indians, including seven minors, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s decision. The move was also opposed by business leaders, who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from countries overseas for jobs.