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US pauses H1-B, other visas till Dec 2019: Understanding the visas norms and implications on India

Almost 67 per cent of the total applications for H-1B visa was from Indians

The US government announced on Tuesday that it is extending the 60-day ban on non-immigrant and immigration visas till the year-end. Popular work visas that include H-1B visas and H-2B visas and few categories of H-4, L and J visas are banned till 31st December 2020. The US President said that the government has taken this decision to protect domestic workers who have been impacted due to the decline in the economy because of the coronavirus lockdown.

What are H-1B and other work visas?

The US administration issues a certain number of work visas each year which allows the companies outside of the US to send highly-skilled low-cost employees in IT and other related domains in the US to work on client sites.

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Of these work visas, H-1B visa is the most popular visa amongst the Indian companies. A total of 85,000 H-1B visas is allotted to highly skilled foreign workers and the rest 20,000 can be allotted to the highly skilled foreign workers who have a master degree or higher education from an American University. Fashion Models can use this and so can people with distinguished merit and ability, people who are involved in government-to-government research and development, and people who are involved in co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense can get these visas.

L1 visas are issued by the American government to enable a company to transfer its highly skilled workers to the US for a period of up to 7 years. H-2B visas allow agricultural and food workers to seek employment in the United States.

How the extension of the ban will impact India?

The ban of these work visas means that those who did not have a valid non-immigrant visa, are already out of the country. They will not be allowed to enter the country till 31st December 2020. People working in essential services like food have some respite. Individuals and their spouse or children who are residing in the US with the H-1B, J, H-2B and L visas currently won’t be impacted by the new worker visa ban.

IT companies of India are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B visa as they account a good amount of share in the total number of visas issued each year. Data shows that out of the 2.5 lakh H-1B visa applications, 1.84 lakh or 67 per cent H-1B visa applications were applied by the Indians for the current FY 2021.

The Donald Trump government has not only banned the visas but also made changes in the H-1B visa norms. Then new norms favour the highly skilled and highest-paid individuals by their respective companies. This could impact the Indian IT companies which send thousands of low-cost employees to work on client sites in the United States.

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