US eases H-1B visa norms a day after tech giants back immigration lawsuit — NASSCOM ‘cautiously optimistic’

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  • The US government is relaxing its restriction on the entry of H-1B visa holders into the country but based on some terms and conditions.
  • Terms and conditions include resuming existing employment and proving that absence of the H-1B visa holder would result in a serious financial loss to the company.
  • The move comes just one day after tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft decided to support the lawsuit filed against the visa suspension by 174 Indian families.
Indian H-1B visa holders will finally be able to return to the US with the country’s State Department relaxing the visa restrictions issued by US President Donald Trump last month.

The move comes just one day after tech giants in the US — including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft — decided to back the lawsuit filed on behalf of 174 Indian families against Trump’s proclamation.


But, not everybody will make the cut. The State Department has added some terms and conditions that will determine the eligibility of an H1-B applicant’s necessity to return to the US. The problem with these requirements is that they do not appear in US laws and are completely arbitrary.

Despite that, employers and employees alike consider the move an improvement over the status quo. India’s leading tech lobby NASSCOM remains ‘cautiously optimistic’.

“NASSCOM welcomes this move and believes it will help US businesses access talent critical to the economic recovery phase in the post-COVID world,” it said in a statement.


H-1B visa holders can only return to the US if they already have a job there
To travel back to the US on an H-1B visa, one has to be resuming ongoing employment, be a technical specialist, a COVID-19 researcher, or a public healthcare worker in order to qualify for travel.

Who can travel back to the US on an H-1B visa:
  1. Applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment
  2. Technical specialists
  3. Public health or healthcare professionals
  4. COVID 19 researcher
  5. “Other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.”
  6. Dependents — spouses and children — will be allowed to travel with visa holders (End graphic)
Assuming that the above criterion is met, there are still a few more hoops to jump through.

How will the US State Department determine that you’re ‘unique’?
Even if an H-1B applicant wants to return to their existing job, they have to prove themselves to be unique. The US State Department has listed five criteria, and at least two must be met for applicants to be considered.

Terms and conditions for H1-B visa holders to return to the US:
  • They cannot do their job remotely.
  • Income meaningfully exceeds the prevailing wage rate by at least 15% indicating that they can’t be replaced by an American worker.
  • Proposed job duties or position within the company indicates significant and unique contributions to an employer meeting a critical infrastructure need.
  • Education, training, and experience demonstrate unusual expertise
  • Denial of the visa will cause financial hardship to the U.S. employer. (End graphic)
Critical infrastructure sectors include chemical, communications, emergency services, energy, financial services, transportation, and water systems, among other areas.

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