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Now, H-1B, L-1 visa holders can enter US on few conditions

The new set of exceptions for H-1B and L-1 visas comes as a breather for IT firms, but interpretation of eligibility criteria by US officials holds the key

Trump administration relaxes H-1B visa ban norms Trump administration relaxes H-1B visa ban norms

The recent exceptions made by the United States to the previously made proclamations by the Trump administration to bar entry of immigrants on certain types of visas till the end of the year 2020 have come in as a breather for IT services companies. As an exception to the proclamation, the US State Department issued a non-exclusive list of the types of travel that may be considered to be in the national interest. H-1B visa applicants will now be allowed to undertake certain travel in the national interest by non-immigrants such as  travel as a public health or healthcare professional, or researcher to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit or travel by technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.

However, the applicants will have to establish that they are at a senior level within their petitioning organisation or having a job unique and vital to the management and success of the overall business enterprise, or the proposed job duties and specialised qualifications will provide significant and unique contributions to the petitioning company.

Also read: H-1B visa ban: Trump administration relaxes norms, allows return for same jobs with same employers

Indian IT Industry body NASSCOM said it welcomes the carve-outs applicable to tech workers, which will largely help US businesses access talent critical to the economic recovery phase in the post-COVID world. "However, we remain 'cautiously optimistic' - as caveats in the DoS guidance about seniority, unique and significant contributions and/or other factors that go along with the exceptions still allow a lot of leeway in interpretation of the new guidance," it said in a statement.

The newly stated guidelines also require the H-1B visa applicant wage rate to be exceeding the prevailing wage rate by at least 15 per cent and demonstrate that the visa holder has advanced degree or expertise which is critical for the petitioning employee. Immigration experts call this move a step in the right direction which could mean that H1-B or L-1 visas can be issued for employees looking at continuing their ongoing employment on the same visa with the same employer which will help companies save additional financial burden of forcibly replacing employees. Also, NASSCOM further said that the impact can only be gauged in course of time. "We believe this is a step in the right direction and encourage the implementing agencies to ensure US businesses' access to critical talent is not hampered," said the statement.

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