The White House won’t renew a ban on H-1B and other work-based visas imposed last year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that expired on March 31st.
The ban blocked foreign workers on a range of temporary work-based visas from coming into the country. The Trump administration had imposed it in June, saying it was necessary to safeguard jobs for American workers as the economy sputtered and unemployment soared because of lockdowns designed to contain the coronavirus. On Dec. 31, then-President Donald Trump renewed the ban through the end of March.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The expiry of the Trump’s proclamation will now restart the issuance of H-1B visas by American diplomatic missions overseas that would result in US companies bringing in talented technology professionals inside the country.
The decision to let the ban expire will benefit a range of companies, from technology to landscaping, that say there aren’t American workers who can fill their specific needs, especially as they plan for an improving economic outlook. Tech companies left jobs unfilled or hired preferred employees to work remotely from abroad. Seasonal employers, including landscapers, resort owners and summer camps, use other visa types covered by the ban to employ foreign workers for their busy seasons, and families use them to hire au pairs.
American tech firms, from Apple to Google, rely on foreign talent to shore up domestic workforces. Infosys Ltd. and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. traditionally dispatch Indian software engineers to work in tandem with their American clients, which include some of the largest Wall Street banks and technology corporations.
Indian IT companies, which are among the major beneficiaries of H-1B visas, have a significant number of their employees deployed at third-party worksites. A number of American banking, travel, and commercial services depend on on-site IT workers from India to get their job done.
With Trump’s order having expired, all the H-1B visa holders who had been impacted by this travel ban will now be free to go to back to the US and resume their work as independent contractors. This in turn will mean the availability of a larger talent pool for U.S. companies.
The expiry of the order also means that all US diplomatic missions, present in various countries, would now be able to issue fresh worker visas, thereby allowing even the US based IT companies to start hiring foreign talented workers again.
The other Covid-19 public health related travel bans pertaining to residents of the Schlengen region of Western Europe, China, Brazil and Iran remain a major impediment to getting business back to normal.
While the Biden administration has taken a number of valuable steps to undo the harmful immigration policies of its predecessor, there is plenty of room for further progress.