By The SATimes News Service
Washington: A plea for processing of their visa applications and consequent re-entry into the US, filed by 169 Indians and their dependents who are stuck in India, owing to the temporary ban imposed by President Trump, has been turned down by the Columbia District Court, reported Times of India, adding that an appeal will be filed against this order, which was passed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on September 16.
The plaintiffs were residing in the US on H-1B visas or dependent visas (eg: spouses of the primary H-1B visa holders), they had travelled to India for various reasons and needed visas to return. A visa stamp from the consulate office is required to enter or even re-enter the US.
Owing to President Trump’s Proclamation on June 22 that barred certain foreign nationals including H-1Bs not having visa stamps from entry into the US, until at least December end, the visa applications of these plaintiffs (in Form DS-160) were not being adjudicated (processed and finalized) by the US Consulate offices.
The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction from the application of the Proclamation on the grounds that it was ultra vires. They also submitted in their lawsuit, that withholding the adjudication of their visa applications is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
One of the cases highlighted in the order is the plea of an individual who had spent six years studying and working in the US, and who owing to the Proclamation was stuck in India. It was submitted that she was at the risk of losing her job, she had to pay to store her belongings in the US – as she had travelled to India only with a set of clothes, and she continued to pay for various US expenses such as phone bills. As owing to the Proclamation her visa application was not being adjudicated, she was under severe mental and emotional stress and worried about her inability to repay her student loans.
The administration has made some relaxations. In mid-August, the US Department of State, in its updated guidelines, permitted foreign nationals to seek an H-1B visa to return to the US to resume their previously held employment. In addition, individuals including those in the IT sector may also qualify for entry to the US under ‘national interest exception’ norms, subject to meeting certain conditions.