In a relief to Indian techies and IT services firms, Joe Biden, immediately on taking over as the US  President,  put on hold recent modifications introduced by the Donald Trump administration to H-1B visa rules.

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The White House Chief of Staff, in a memorandum, said  all the rules introduced by Trump that have been published in the Federal Register, but  not taken effect, will be postponed for 60 days. Rules that have not been  published in it will be withdrawn immediately for review and approval. For India,  the biggest impact of this will be on the  work visa rules.

New labour rules

On January 12, the Department of Labour (DoL) had changed how prevailing wage levels  would be computed for permanent labour certifications. This rule would have increased wage costs for most tech companies. Then, on January 15, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quietly issued a new H-1B visa rule that broadened the employer-employee relationship’s definition, making it difficult for American companies to outsource jobs.

Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner at immigration law firm LawQuest, explained that Biden’s action would mean the withdrawal of the January 15 rule.  “In addition, any final rule that has already been published, but not yet taken effect, may upon further agency action be postponed for until March 21, 2021, including the H-1B Wage Selection Final Rule. As the two bulletins clarifying filing requirements for LCAs (Labor Condition Applications) by secondary employers, and on H-1B programme obligations for common-law employers published by the Department of Labor on January 15, 2021, rely on the finalisation of the DHS rule, it is likely that they will be withdrawn by DoL as well,” Chothani said.

Indian IT industry body Nasscom, in a statement, welcomed Biden’s commitment to review the rules.