Dependents of H-1B visa holders get a reprieve from the State Department

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NEW YORK – The Trump Administration, after their reversal of a controversial decision on international student visas, also backed down this week on banning the entry through the end of the year of all work visa holders and their dependents stranded overseas who needed their visa to be stamped at US Consulates overseas, atter a lawsuit was filed against the order.

The Trump Administration acted in haste after the lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, seeing a potentially embarrassing defeat in a courtroom. The Trump proclamation order brought only misery and anguish to valid visa holders whose only fault was that they were caught in another country because of personal reasons, and were separated from their family in the US because of the order.

The State Department order also exempted dependent children who were in danger of aging out of their current H-4 visa status before the expiry of Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending the entry of all H-1B and other work visas till 2021.

The State Department issued a statement which said it will continue to issue H, L, and J visas to applicants who are otherwise currently excepted or where the principal applicant is currently in the US.

Along with likely resumption of international flights to certain countries, which may include pacts between India and the US, visa holders stuck overseas can also take heart from the fact that the State Department has announced the phased resumption of routine visa services at its consulates around the world.

With the new State Department order, all those visa holders stuck outside of the US, may be able to return to the US as soon as they get the visa stamped, and be able to book a ticket to fly to the US.

The State Department also announced that priority will also be given to travelers with urgent needs, including F-1, M-1, and certain J-1 category visas; and some family members of US citizens, consistent with the presidential proclamation.

The State Department said it was committed to implement Trump’s June 22 executive order suspending the entry of foreign nationals, with a view to protect the US labor market which has been in an upheaval since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump issued a presidential proclamation (Proclamation 10052) that suspended the entry of foreign nationals on H-1B, L, H-2B and J temporary visas until at least December 31, 2020.

White House adviser Stephen Miller is believed to be the chief architect of the proclamation. The proclamation justified the new visa restrictions with little economic data. More important, from a legal perspective, the proclamation overturns key provisions of U.S. immigration law, reported Forbes.

A group of 174 H-1B and H-4 visa holders stranded in India had on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order preventing them from returning to the US, in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit included seven minor children, reported Forbes.

The legal action, which is the first to challenge the recent presidential proclamation, asked the court to compel the State Department “to issue decisions on the plaintiffs pending requests for H-1B and H-4 visas,” to enjoin the Department of Homeland Security from refusing entry to the United States” and to declare unlawful the proclamation’s “restriction on issuing new H-1B or H-4 visas or admitting new H-1B or H-4 visa holders.”

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