Good news for H-1B visa holders stranded in India

MUMBAI: A U.S. District Court judge has banned the use of travel bans as an excuse for not processing or issuing visas, like the H-1B – a nonimmigrant visa.
As the United States prepares to open its doors from November to fully vaccinated travelers, this District of Columbia court ruling, released on October 5, is good news for H-1B holders and their people. dependents (such as spouses holding H4 visas) who found themselves stranded in India while visiting family.
People who were assigned H-1Bs under the lottery scheme were also unable to have their visas processed.
Travel bans were imposed under a “presidential proclamation” earlier by former President Donald Trump and later by President Joe Biden. The consequence was that visa processing stopped. No nonimmigrant visa has been issued, unless the person can apply for a “national interest exemption” – a difficult task.
On April 30, Biden issued a proclamation restricting the entry of non-immigrants (green card holders were exempt from the ban) who were physically present in India during the 14-day period prior to their entry or exit. attempt to enter the United States.
TOI had previously reported the filing of a complaint by several people, including Indian nationals. “Several of the plaintiffs are long-time employees of US companies who are stranded outside the United States and whose careers are in jeopardy because they cannot return to their jobs, homes and communities. All of the individual plaintiffs suffered additional expense, undue stress and frustration as they waited for the State Department to resume processing of nonimmigrant visas, ”the lawsuit said.
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They said in district court that the US State Department “refused to process their nonimmigrant visas” to “schedule interviews or rule on their visa applications,” or “issue visas” as a result. of the presidential proclamation. They also stressed that “consular officials are categorically barred from processing their visa applications unless they fall under an exemption, regardless of the capacity and reopening status of local consulates and embassies.”
Although Judge James E. Boasberg did not order the US State Department to rule on the prosecution immediately, he prohibited the use of the travel ban proclamation as an excuse to deny visa processing.
Greg Siskind, one of the immigration attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said: “This is a pretty important victory for us because it [the lawsuit] was specifically aimed at killing the illegal interpretation at all levels and not just for the plaintiffs. This will hopefully also prevent a president in the future from abusing that power. ”

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