US travel ban has come as a shock to visa holders, especially working Indians and students. Here’s what we know about it. By Tanvi Jain

 

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On June 22, US President Donald Trump had imposed a ban on entry of several work visas, which therefore created panic among Indians both already working in the United States as well as those, who are soon to get their work visas approved. The worst affected were senior-level tech workers or inter-company transfers.  

The ban which is scheduled to be lifted on December 31 this year, has affected H-1B, L-1, F-1 (student), EB-2 and EB-3 green cards. However, it should be noted that the ban won’t have any major impact in future unless the US Government agency makes an exception in the national interest or otherwise, because the US consular posts are shut and visa appointments are also on hold except in the event of an emergency. 

Other key points to keep in mind are that the ban on H-1B visa will not have any immediate impact on the Indian IT companies, and only a few will be affected. Visa holders with approved petitions under FY 2021 H-1B CAP anyway couldn’t have started work before October 2020.  

 

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Moreover, while those in possession of H-1B and H4 visas have been banned from entering the country without a valid visa stamp, but holders of the same already staying in the country won’t be affected. Furthermore, the extension of visas within the country, change of employers, status, and any amendments in H-1B employment are also allowed. Same goes for L-1 and L-2 status holders as well.  

Meanwhile, holders of F-1 visa i.e. international students are still allowed to travel, the consulates can continue to issue the visa, and those already in the US can continue with their stay and travel from the country and return as long as their visa is valid. 

Similarly, the holders EB-2 and EB-3 Green Cards, which are employment-based immigrant visas are though not impacted by the ban, as per a provision, the ban directs Department of Homeland Security and Labour to make regulations and take necessary actions in order to make sure that any benefits in terms of admission or otherwise sought by the outsiders do not disadvantage US workers or students 

 

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However, the ban still has majorly impacted Indians – the largest H-1B visa holders. For example, those with a valid visa who are stuck outside of the US and cannot come back because their visa expired during the lockdown period, have been left with no other option but to be separated from their family. Similarly, if the dependents are in the US while the principal beneficiary is out of the country, it might cost them their lawful status. Many have already decided to sue the Government as they have valid reasons to support their claim. 

The US immigration authority recently announced that if the universities start online classes during the pandemic, all the foreign students will either have to leave the country or will be deported. This sparked outrage both among the students as well as the educational institutions, and few universities already filed lawsuits demanding that the order be revoked.    

Related: VFS Global Reopens Select Visa Application Centers In 11 Indian Cities