The Trump administration has relaxed some rules for H-1B visas that allow applicants currently outside the United States being considered for a visa if they meet a certain set of criteria, said the US department of State.

Applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the US in the same position with the same employers and visa classification will now be allowed as forcing employers to replace them may cause financial hardship, said the US department of State in a new set of exemptions issued on Wednesday. Similar guidelines would be applicable for L1 visa applicants as well.

This is the first relaxation of rules by the US govt since President Donald Trump signed a proclamation on June 22, suspending the entry of certain non-immigrant visa categories like the H1B and L1 visas till the end of the year to protect the US labour market following record unemployment rates because of the coronavirus pandemic. ET reported on Wednesday that the US tech industry that includes firms such as Facebook and Microsoft filed a brief in a California court supporting a lawsuit against the President’s visa suspension.

The new rules allow senior level employees in critical infrastructure sectors including healthcare and information technology, whose roles are vital to the management and success of the business to get the visas. They should be paid at least 15% higher than the wage rate would also be considered, provided it is established that denial of the visa would cause significant financial harm to the employer. The department has issued a set of five guidelines, and applicants must meet at least two out of these five to be considered for a visa.

Healthcare professionals and researchers doing work related to Covid19 or travelling on a request from a US government agency or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations will also be allowed. This would include people identified by government agencies as performing research, providing IT support or similar, essential to the agency.

It said that Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) approved by the Department of Labor during or after July 2020 are more likely to account for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. labor market and the petitioner’s business. “Therefore, this indicator is only present for cases with an LCA approved during or after July 2020 as there is an indication that the petitioner still has a need for the H-1B worker,” said the statement. Further, if the applicant is able to perform essential functions remotely outside the US, then this indicator is not present.


News Source: Economic Times


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