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U.S. Relaxes Restrictions on H-1B Visa Holders

A U.S. Department of State advisory states that certain restrictions on H-1B visa holders trying to work in the United States have been loosened. H-1Bs will be allowed to enter the U.S. to return to the same jobs they had before the June 22 visa ban. Dependents on H-4 visas (like spouses and children) will be allowed to return with them.

The Department of State’s advisory says that an exception to the June 22 executive order will be permitted for “[t]ravel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification”.

Other exceptions to the executive order include visas for technical specialists, top-level managers, and other H-1B visa holders who can help boost the U.S. economy. Likewise, foreigners working in public healthcare, research related to the coronavirus, and projects that benefit public health are also allowed entry into the U.S.

The advisory further states that the ban has been lifted for “[t]ravel supported by a request from a U.S. government agency or entity to meet critical U.S. foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations. This would include individuals, identified by the Department of Defense or another U.S. government agency, performing research, providing IT support/services, or engaging other similar projects essential to a U.S. government agency”.

President Trump issued an executive order on June 22 banning the issuance of new H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 visas in an effort to free up jobs for American workers during the economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order took effect on June 24 and is scheduled to expire on December 31.

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