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Donald Trump era visa ban expires today, relief for H-1B visa hopefuls

News Agencies | Updated on: 1 April 2021, 8:59 IST
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President Joe Biden plans to provide relief for H-1B visa hopefuls, who have faced the pandemic related visa ban enacted by former US President Donald Trump's executive order.

The restriction that was imposed last June for certain temporary workers is set to expire at midnight on Wednesday (local time).

The expiration means that H-1B visa holders applicants no longer have to wait for President Biden to reverse the order. Even though the White House hasn't announced the decision, media reports suggest that sources close to the President say he has opted not to renew the suspension in order to restore the pipeline of skilled foreign workers.

In June last year, Trump had imposed a ban on US employment permits to year-end and broadened it to include H-1B visas which are used widely in the tech industry. The intent was to ensure American workers take first priority to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

A large percentage of H-1B visa holders and applicants hail from India. Biden's decision will not just give relief to many Indians but also IT giants including the likes of Google and Facebook. Many IT services leaders had also pressured the Biden administration to lift the ban ever since Biden took office.

Biden last month withdrew a related Trump executive order that stopped the issuance of new green cards, citing the pandemic, a move that drastically cut legal immigration to the U.S. again with an intent that the policies were necessary to protect the American economy as it emerged from the pandemic-induced recession.

"The effects of COVID-19 on the United States labour market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern," Trump had said in his proclamation, which cited the unemployment rate, pandemic-related restrictions on businesses issued by states and the rise in coronavirus infections since June.

"To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here," Biden said in a presidential proclamation at the time of withdrawal. "It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world."

The restrictions had also halted several temporary visas used by people abroad to work in the US, including the H-1B program that is popular in the tech sector and H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers. Cultural exchange J-1 visas for Au Pairs and other short-term workers; visas for spouses of H-1B and H-2B holders; and L visas for companies to relocate employees to the US were suspended as well.


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First published: 1 April 2021, 8:59 IST