Nasscom ‘cautiously optimistic’ on exemptions in non-immigrant visa ban in US

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August 13, 2020 3:58 PM

Nasscom emphasised that this is a step in the right direction and encouraged the implementing agencies to ensure that American businesses' access to critical talent is not hampered.

Nasscom welcomed the move saying this will help US businesses access talent critical to the economic recovery phase in the post-COVID world.

Nasscom on Thursday said it is “cautiously optimistic” about the exemptions offered in the H-1B and L-1 travel banand the development will help US businesses access talent critical for economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 world. The industry body said there are caveats in the US Department of State’s (DoS) guidance about seniority, unique and significant contributions and other factors that go along with the exceptions that allow leeway in interpretation of the new guidance. Its impact can only be gauged in course of time, it added.

On Wednesday, the DoS issued guidance on ‘National Interest Exemptions’ to the Presidential Proclamations that had suspended entry of certain immigrant and non-immigrant (H-1B, H-2B, and L-1) visa holders into the US. Both proclamations now include exceptions for individuals whose entry to the US would be in “national interest” as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

“The National Interest Exceptions include potential carve-outs/ exemptions for technology workers on H-1B/L-1 visas providing critical infrastructure services, as per the DHS CISA guidance; a key ask by Nasscom and the Indian tech industry,” Nasscom said in a statement on Thursday.

The industry body noted that it also includes exceptions for H-1B/L-1 visa-holders who would be returning to the US in the same position with the same employer and visa classification. Nasscom said it has consistently raised the importance of visa holders working in the tech sector, particularly those who would be delivering services designated essential as per the DHS CISA ‘Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce’. It raised the importance of particularly those who would be returning to the US in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.

Nasscom welcomed the move saying this will 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. The impact can only be gauged in course of time,” it added.

Nasscom emphasised that this is a step in the right direction and encouraged the implementing agencies to ensure that American businesses’ access to critical talent is not hampered.

US President Donald Trump, in his June proclamation, had banned the entry into the US of workers in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including the H-1B, arguing that they eat into American jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

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