The H-1B visa ban introduced by President Donald Trump last year expired on Wednesday, with President Joe Biden allowing the rules to come to an end.
In an update on Thursday, the US Department of State said visa applicants who were previously refused due to Trump's freeze may reapply by submitting a new application. Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed will have their applications prioritized and processed under the State Department's phased resumption plan.
The Trump administration in June 2020 stopped the government issuing H-1B visas through an an executive order linked to the coronavirus pandemic. In October, Trump then placed new restrictions on H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers -- rules that were struck down by a federal judge in December who said the administration failed to show "good cause" for issuing the rules on an emergency basis.
The Trump administration had argued that the new rules, which fell under the departments of Labor and Homeland Security, needed to be issued rapidly because of unemployment caused by COVID-19. The Labor Department rule, which went into effect in October, raised the minimum salaries employers were required to pay H-1B workers. The Homeland Security rule, which was set to take effect in December, would have required foreign workers to have a degree in the "specialty occupation" they apply for -- as opposed to any college degree.
The tech industry relies heavily on H-1B visas, with around three-quarters of each year's 85,000 allotted H-1B visas going to people who work in tech.
The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.