They argued that a “travel ban” did not amount to a “visa ban,” tweeted one of the lawyers who filed the complaint.
Tuesday’s ruling says it’s illegal for the State Department to use travel bans, which were issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by former Presidents Donald Trump and his successor Joe Biden, as a reason to stop visa processing for travelers who are otherwise eligible.
Federal Judge James E. Boasberg on Tuesday ended the State Department’s practice of not issuing visas to travelers from other countries when travel bans are in effect.
Travel bans are issued by presidential proclamation and have been used to prevent non-citizens who are not permanent residents from entering the United States.
Several bans, especially for visitors from China, Iran, India, Brazil, South Africa, the Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Ireland, remain in effect.
China’s ban has lasted the longest and was introduced in early 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was first reported in central China’s Wuhan city in late 2019.
Among the largest groups of people affected by the ban were employees of U.S. companies in the tech and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
Hundreds of Indian tech workers who rushed home to care for their sick relatives in a devastating wave of the Delta variant that swept across the country in late spring and early summer y remained stranded following the ban implemented by Biden, according to the report.
American businesses depend on the H-1B visa to hire tens of thousands of employees each year in countries like India and China.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in skilled trades that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Because the United States government no longer issued visas in their home country, people were also barred from entering the United States after being quarantined in a third country, according to the report.
The result was that families were separated and workers and students were unable to return, as United States Consulate offices abroad nearly shut down during the pandemic.
The judge has yet to issue an order telling the government how to proceed, according to the report.
However, the decision, according to Greg Siskind, one of the lawyers who filed the complaint, declares the illegality of the government which misinterprets the law in the future.
“This is the first court order that has made a statement on government policy,” Siskind said.