US govt announces certain exemptions on H-1B and L-1 visas travel ban

The US government said the exemptions given for H-1B and L-1 visas are being provided under the national interest category

In a move that could help Indian IT professionals and those working in the healthcare sector, the Donald Trump Administration has announced certain exemptions in H-1B and L-1 travel ban for those continuing employment with the same employer.

The exemptions to the June 22 Presidential Proclamation 10052, commonly referred to as the 'H-1B or L-1 Travel Ban,' also includes the family members of the H-1B, L-1, and certain categories of J1 visas.

President Donald Trump, in his June proclamation, banned the entry into the US of workers in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including the H-1B, arguing that they eat into American jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

The State Department, which issued the revised travel advisory, on Wednesday said that the exemptions have been given under national interest category.

In its advisory, the State Department said that H-1B and L-1 visas can now be issued for employees who are seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.

Forcing employers to replace existing employees may cause financial hardship, it said.

All those on H-1B visas working in the healthcare sector, especially those related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit (for example, cancer or communicable disease research) are also exempted from the July 22 travel ban.

Notably, in the last few weeks, several lawmakers have written to the Secretary of State to exempt the healthcare sector from the travel ban on H-1B, L1, and J1 visas.

Further new factors have been set forth to also allow H-1B visas to be issued when at least two of the five indicators are met, the State Department said.

Edited by Suman Singh