India IT industry body NASSCOM is 'cautiously optimistic' on the relaxation announced by the US government on August 12 for H-1B and L-1 visa holders entering the US.
In a statement issued on August 13, the agency said, “NASSCOM welcomes this move and believes it will help US businesses access talent critical to the economic recovery phase in the post-COVID world.”
However, we remain 'cautiously optimistic,' the agency said pointing out that some of the exemptions are subjective.
The US Department of State (DoS) in its latest guidelines allowed the entry of non-immigration visas such as H-1B, L-1, J-1 and H-2B visa under specific conditions. These visa holders were recently banned from entering the US until December 31, 2020, in a bid to address the rising employment in the US.
The order had come as a huge blow for Indians and IT and tech firms, the major beneficiaries of H-1B and L-1 visa. In FY19, 1.3 lakh of the nearly 1.9 lakh H-1B visas processed including fresh visa, renewals and extensions, were issued to Indians.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of 174 Indian families and was backed by tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft against the proclamation.
The new guidelines have come a day after the tech giants backed the lawsuit.
The new guidelines allow H-1B and L-1 visa holders, who are returning to the same jobs they had prior to the proclamation of the visa ban, to enter the US including their dependents, H-4 and L-2 visa holders.
There are also exemptions for technical specialists, senior-level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the US. However, these individuals should be in the space of powering critical infrastructures such as communication, emergency services, financial services, food and agriculture and healthcare.
This could be an issue, NASSCOM pointed out. “…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 the interpretation of the new guidance,” the statement said.
So the impact, the agency said, can only be gauged in the course of time. “That said, 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,” the statement added.