The US H1b visa is an important issue in India, that affects not just the thousands of immigrants from India to USA, who use this visa to live and work in the United States, but also the financial and economic well being of the rest of the country as well. It is not surprising therefore, that the entire country shows a keen interest, when rules regarding the H1B visa are reframed by the US immigration authority.
External affairs ministry opines on H1B visa for US immigration Mr. V Muraleedharan, the Minister of State for External Affairs in India, has stated, that the central government is in close talks with the United States government, and all other relevant stakeholders, on the issue of migration of Indian professionals, including those applying for migration through the H-1B visa route. He also mentioned that, the same topic was raised two times, bilateral meetings between the countries, the previous year.
The previous administration, under President Trump, had used an executive order to suspend all work visas, which included H-1B visas, due to the Covid pandemic. This suspension, halted the entry of all high skilled non-immigrant professionals and their families into the United States.
The restrictions, which came into effect from June, the previous year, affected workers in a wide range of Industries, from healthcare to hospitality. The group that was the most affected was the IT sector professionals, who have received the major portion of H-1B visa approvals each year.
The data released by the Minister of State, demonstrated that Indians were the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B visa program, over the last five years, with Indians bagging more than half the total number of visas issued. The minister has stated that the government has used its official channels to convince the US administration to revoke the ban on visas, and showcase the contribution, made by skilled Indian workers to the economic growth of the United States, and their especial part in the growth of the technology sector.
The newly elected, administration in USA, under President Biden, has shown, its willingness to consider the points made by various stakeholders, calling for a more open immigration policy and reversal of the suspension of various work visas as well as the reinstatement of working rights for the spouses of H-1B visa holders.
The spouses of H1-B visa workers, who entered the United States on the H4 visa, were traditionally counted as dependent and were not allowed to work or earn money, while living in the US. This led to a lot of struggle and exposure to exploitation of these people, who were mostly women. Lobbying by many woman and human rights groups, led to a new rule under the Obama administration, that allowed H4 status holders, the right to work, if certain conditions were met. This allowance was subsequently cancelled by the Trump government as part of its ‘America First’ policy.
It is to be hoped, that the new administration, adapts a more liberal policy when it comes to migration and working rights of deserving skilled professionals as well as their spouses.