United States President Joe Biden on Thursday, 1 April, let an executive order from June 2020 banning the issuance of new non-immigrant worker visas expire.
The executive order, signed by his predecessor Donald Trump, had barred the entry of eligible work visa holders, first for 60 days till August, which was extended till December and then till 31 March. This ban particularly impacted IT professionals from India, many of whom rely on the H-1B visa to work in the US.
WHY WAS IT BANNED?
Former US President Donald Trump had signed an executive order in June 2020 barring the entry of H-1B and other foreign work visa holders citing it as an essential step to save the jobs of Americans who had lost their work due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Trump Administration had proposed to narrow the eligibility for H-1B visa aspirants and raise the minimum salary requirement in an effort to make it harder for foreign skilled workers to qualify for the visa program.
The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals, working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.
Indian IT companies, which are among the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas, have a significant number of their employees deployed at third-party worksites. A number of American banking, travel, and commercial services depend on on-site IT workers from India to get their job done.
WHY DID BIDEN LET THE BAN EXPIRE?
In July 2020, Biden had promised to revoke the temporary suspension on H-1B visas, should he win the upcoming US elections in November. “He (US President Donald Trump) just ended H-1B visas the rest of this year. That will not be in my administration,” Biden had said at an election rally.
TechNet, a group of industry executives from companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and more, had filed lawsuits challenging the new rules. Silicon Valley companies, which corner a majority of the H-1B visas for their employees, have lobbied hard for the ban to be revoked.
Ever since Biden took charge, technology industry mandarins had been asking the new administration to reverse the ban to allow them to hire new workers.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Indian professionals are the largest beneficiaries of the H-1B Visa program, bagging approximately 70 percent of the 85,000 visas each year.
With the order having expired on 31 March, all the H-1B visa-holders who had been impacted by the travel ban will now be free to go to back to the US and resume their work as an independent contractor as well, The Indian Express reported. This in turn will mean the availability of a greater workforce for the IT companies.
The report added that the expiry of the order would also mean that all US diplomatic missions, present in various countries, would now be able to issue fresh worker visas, thereby allowing even the US-based IT companies to start hiring foreign talent again.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)