Trump extends H-1B freeze, Indian techies to be worst hit

Washington: US President Donald Trump has extended the freeze on the most sought-after H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas by three months to protect American workers, saying while therapeutics and Covid-19 vaccines are recently available, their effect on the labour market and community health has not yet been fully realised.

The decision will impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the US government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning 1 October.

The freeze on various categories of work visas was ordered by Trump through two proclamations on 22 April and 22 June last year. Hours before the freeze was set to expire on 31 December, Trump issued another proclamation on Thursday to extend it until 30 March.

He said that the reasons for which he had issued such a restriction has not changed. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

They would now have to wait at least till the end of March before approaching the US diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.