IT industry body Nasscom on Thursday said it is “cautiously optimistic” about the exemptions offered in the H-1B and L-1 travel ban. However, it welcomed the move as it could help US businesses access talent critical to economic recovery post-Covid-19.
The industry body said there are caveats in the US Department of State’s (DoS) guidance about seniority, unique and significant contributions and other factors that go along with the exceptions that allow leeway in the interpretation of the new guidance. “Its impact can only be gauged in course of time,” Nasscom said in a statement.
“We believe this is a step in the right direction and encourages the implementing agencies to ensure that US businesses’ access to critical talent is not hampered,” it added.
US President Donald Trump, in his June proclamation (and April proclamation), had banned the entry of workers into the US in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including the H-1B, arguing that they were eating into American jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the DoS issued guidance on ‘National Interest Exemptions’ to the Presidential Proclamations that had suspended entry of certain immigrant and non-immigrant (H-1B, H-2B, and L-1) visa holders into the US.
Both proclamations now include exceptions for individuals whose entry to the US would be in “national interest” as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.
The industry body noted that it also includes exceptions for H-1B/L-1 visa-holders who would be returning to the US in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.
L-1 visas are issued for intra-company transfers. For instance, if an Infosys executive moves from India to the company’s office in the US, it will be on an L-1 visa. However, if the same executive is going to the US to work at a client site, he or she will be issued an H-1B visa.
Last week, Trump also passed an executive order which prevents federal agencies from contracting or subcontracting foreign workers.