US judge refuses to grant preliminary injunction against H-1B visa ban

The US Chamber of Commerce and several trade associations, including a coalition of technology giants such as Apple and Google, had also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the ban. | Photo: Shutterstock
A federal judge in Washington, DC, refused to order the processing of visa applications of foreign workers amid the Donald Trump administration’s order that halts fresh issuance of H-1B, L-1 and other non-immigration visas.

District Judge Amit P Mehta dismissed the H-1B visa holders’ request seeking a suspension of the proclamation. Since the ban still exists and the lawsuit contesting the ban was pending, requiring the US Department of State to nonetheless process the visa requests “would be an exercise in futility”, the judge said. 

The case was filed by a group of 169 Indian nationals who recently visited India after living in the US on work visas and are now attempting to return. They argued that the proclamation was “arbitrary and capricious” and called for the government to process their visa applications.

Soon after the judgement, the Indians’ attorneys filed a notice indicating their plans to appeal the ruling in a circuit court.

The US Chamber of Commerce and several trade associations, including a coalition of technology giants such as Apple and Google, had also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the ban. That lawsuit is pending before a California federal court.

Trump signed a proclamation in June restricting H-1B and other non-immigration visas till the end of 2020. The move was seen as a means to generate more jobs for Americans.

H-1B visas are meant for immigrant workers in speciality occupations while H-4 visas are issued for their dependent family members. The US government issued over 188,000 H-1B visa and 125,000 H-4 visas in 2019, according to its Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website. The major beneficiaries in both cases were Indians. 

L-1 visas are issued for intra-company transfers. For instance, if an Infosys executive moves from India to the company’s office in the US, it will be on an L-1 visa. However, if the same executive is going to the US to work at a client site, he or she will be issued an H-1B visa.




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