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U.S. Suspends H-1B and other VISAS

Sat 27 Jun, 2020

Recently US administration announced that it was extending the 60-day ban on immigration and non-immigrant worker visas till the end of 2020 to control rising unemployment due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. This ban will adversely affect developing countries like India and China.

Background

  • Since the introduction of the H-1 visa scheme in the year 1952, there have been many amendments and changes related to allowing or denying certain categories of skilled workers from other countries depending on the economic situation of the US.
  • President Donald Trump recognizes that low-cost workers from other countries are hindering the growth of the US economy, and it has created a job crisis for American citizens. The US unemployment rate has almost quadrupled between February 2020 and May 2020.Major

Highlights

  • Popular work visas including the much-coveted H-1B and H-2B, and certain categories of H-4, J, and L visas shall also remain suspended until December 31.
  • The suspension will not affect those already in the US on the visas. The Optional Practical Training (OPT) that most foreign students are eligible for after they graduate in the US also remains unaffected.
  • The move, US President Donald Trump said, was to protect domestic workers who had been impacted due to a contraction in the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

H-1B, H-2B and other Work Visas

  • In order to fill a vacuum of highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains, the US administration issues a certain number of visas each year which allows companies from outside the US to send employees to work on client sites.
  • Apart from the H-1B visas, the US government also issues L1 visas which allows companies to transfer highly skilled workers to US for a period of up to seven years.
  • H-2B visas allow food and agricultural workers to seek employment in the US. Of these work visas, the H-1B remains the most popular among Indian IT companies. The US government has a cap of 85,000 total H-1B visas for each year.