Coronavirus pandemic: Uncertainty looms as Trump administration decides to suspend immigration

American President Donald Trump’s announcement about suspending immigration has created uncertainty over what it would mean for Indians amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Immigration experts point out that unless the executive order is out, it is hard to gauge the impact it will have on the ecosystem.

Shivendra Singh, Vice President and Head, Global Trade Development, NASSCOM, said the industry body is trying to get details on the executive order of President Trump and currently no details are available. “Once we get the details, we will respond to the same,” Singh added.

Netra Chavan, who runs one of the largest Facebook groups for H1-B and H4 visa holders, echoed a similar sentiment. However, she added that people with valid visa status in the US should not be worried.


The executive order, which will be soon signed by the Trump administration, could have varying implications on Indians.

There is no mention of worker visa or non-immigrant visa such as H1-B as yet. However, given that it is one of the most popular visa programmes, it has worried techies with valid H1-B and waiting for their travel date to be confirmed.

Indian IT firms are one of the biggest beneficiaries of this visa and many Indians have used this route to get Green Card (GC) or permanent residency in the US.

According to a report by American immigration policy research firm, there are about 5,48,641 Indians waiting for their Green Card under EB-2 and EB-3 category as of 2018. Most of the H1-B workers fall under this. The report suggests that it would take them 54 years to get their GC.

Other immigration routes

Though H1-B is the most popular route to become a permanent resident in the country, that is not the only route available to Indians.

EB-5, an investor immigrant visa programme, has been gaining traction in recent times. This requires an investment to the tune of $900,000-$1.8 million in the US and employment generation.

Unlike H1-B route, which could take decades, EB-5 takes three years. However, with the demand increasing, the waiting period for EB-5 has seen an increase as well.

David S Lesperance, an immigration professional, pointed out that while EB-5 is direct, it is expensive. He suggests that people who want to immigrate could use E1/E2 visa or non-immigrant work visa. “These categories do not have the category cap problem of the H1-B programme,” he added.

E1 and E2 are foreign investment and trade visas in the US. According to, investments required for the visa is to the tune of $10,000 or less compared to the expensive EB-5 visa. However, the individuals or businesses are from countries the US has friendly trade relations with.

Canada route

However for techies, Lesperance points out, the most effective would be the Canada route though it could take longer.

This involves the individual applying for permanent residence in Canada. According to him, after a three-year naturalisation period, they can apply for citizenship, which takes one year for processing.

“Once the Canadian citizenship is granted then they can move directly into the US under a TN Visa which can renewed endlessly,” he explained. TN or nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico to work in the US.

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