US President Joe Biden on Thursday let the ban on foreign workers visas, in particular H-1B, lapse as the notification issued by his predecessor Donald Trump expired. The move is likely to benefit thousands of Indian IT professionals. The moratorium, which affected H-1B visas used by technology companies to hire foreign coders and engineers was imposed last June by Trump.
Amidst a national lockdown and the COVID-19 crisis, Trump in last year issued a proclamation that suspended entry to the US of applicants for several temporary or “non-immigrant” visa categories, including H-1B, arguing that these visas presented a risk to the US labour market during the economic recovery. On December 31, Trump extended the order to March 31, 2021, noting that an extension was warranted as the pandemic continued to disrupt American lives, and high levels of unemployment and job loss were still presenting serious economic challenges to workers across the US.
Biden did not issue a fresh proclamation for the ban on H-1B visas to continue after March 31. He had promised to lift the suspension on H-1B visas, saying Trump’s immigration policies were cruel. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. The expiry of the Trump’s proclamation would now result in the issuing of H-1B visas by American diplomatic missions overseas that would result in US companies bringing in talented technology professionals inside the country. No new proclamation was issued by Biden till Wednesday midnight, resulting in the automatic end to the ban on issuing of fresh H-1B visas.