Trump's temporary ban on immigration visas leaves tech industry miffed

The Indian and US technology industry has been a big beneficiary of the work visas, and urged the US President to rethink his stand.
All eyes are on the next set of regulations for non-immigrant work visas, after US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation late on Monday, restricting H1B, L1, and other immigration visas until the end of 2020. The move will hit the information technology (IT) industry — in both India and the US.

The proclamation has asked immigration agencies to develop regulations for certain visa categories, including the H1B visa, which is used extensively by IT companies. The Indian IT industry as well as global technology giants criticised the move.

“For the current H1B cap cases, once petitions are approved, individuals could have applied for visas and travelled to the US to begin work on October 1. With the latest travel ban, it appears the US will process visas for travel after end-December,” said Poorvi Chothani, managing partner of LawQuest, an immigration firm headquartered in Mumbai. 
“There is no clarity how consulates will handle visa processing. Next year’s cap process may look very different,” Chothani added.

According to Chothani, individuals who already have H1B and L visas and are currently in India may not be affected by the travel ban. But it’s best to wait for further clarity before making travel plans. Those with approved H1B and L1 petitions currently outside the US and do not have a visa stamp will not be able to enter the US until after December 31.

The current annual cap for H1B visas is 65,000, with 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a Master’s degree or doctorate from a US institution of higher learning.


Through Tuesday, industry leaders spoke out against the temporary suspension of certain visa holders’ entry into the US. “Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt at restricting legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back. Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation,” said US Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thomas J Donohue.
The Indian IT industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) said the proclamation would impose new challenges and possibly force more work to be performed offshore since local talent was not available.

“We urge the US Administration to shorten the duration of these restrictions to 90 days. Lengthening these burdensome restrictions on US companies that are trying to recover from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic will only serve to harm our economy,” it said in a statement. 

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai also spoke out against the proclamation in a tweet: "Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation - we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all."

The proclamation will come into effect at 12:01 am ET on June 24. 

“Businesses across the US rely on temporary visas to supplement their local hiring efforts and enable highly-skilled and talented professionals from around the world to enhance America’s competitiveness on the global stage,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“They have also been supporting the US during the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic - retooling their American manufacturing units to produce essentials, providing pharmaceutical and health care assistance for drug discovery and clinical trials in the US, enabling distance education through tech platforms for US schools, and various other initiatives, demonstrating their commitment to the US economic recovery and rebuilding efforts,” added Banerjee.

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