Dependents of H1-B visas can now travel to the US

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Dependents of H1-B work visas can now travel to the US, according to a US Department of State directive.This applies to H-1B, H2A, H4, J1 visa categories, the US Department of State said in a notification. The State Department also clarified that if a principal applicant had a valid H1-B visa on June 24, 2020, they are not subject to the proclamation until the validity of the visa. Additionally, their spouse can apply for an H4 visa.On June 24, US President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation which temporarily suspended issuing of H-1B work visas till the end of the year.The reason cited was a risk to the U.S. labour market presented by foreign nationals during the economic recovery following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. “In the administration of our nation’s immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labour market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour,” Trump had said.
 While there is no official data, industry watchers are of the view that the easing of travel is expected to aid around 1,200 people who are currently stranded in India. Around 3.09 lakh Indians work in the US, and accounted for 73.9 per cent of the total H-1B visa holders.Immigration lawyers believe that while the directive to allow work visa-dependants to travel is welcome, it doesn’t address some of the basic issues.“This is unlikely to have an impact until US Consulates and Embassies open and backlogs are cleared on priority visas like student visas.” Poorvi Chothani, managing partner of LawQuest, an immigration law firm.
 Trump’s proclamation has come under fire in the US and earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Columbia by a group of 174 Indian nationals. The lawsuit was for denying them a visa and preventing them from entering the US.US authorities are also under pressure to reverse the ban as many in the industry have pointed to a lack of skilled workforce to carry out white-collar jobs. Recently, Trump rolled back its earlier directive, which temporarily barred international students from staying in the US unless they attend at least one “in-person” course.

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