Indian software engineers in US need a lease of life and extension of H1-B visa grace period, says Nasscom

Indian software engineers in US need a lease of life and extension of H1-B visa grace period, says Nasscom

  • The Indian IT industry body NASSCOM wants the US to relax the post-unemployment period for H1-B visa holders to 180 days.
  • This is crucial to Indian employees there as they can not avail the unemployment benefits in the US.
  • It also wants the US to ease Labor Condition Application (LCA) norms which allows employees to work from home.
  • The US Labor Department reported 3.28 million registrations in a week, claiming unemployment benefits since millions of Americans have already lost jobs in this turmoil.
All the software engineers working in the US have been living a dream, until a few months back. Now, not only are they at high risk of contracting Coronavirus, they are worried about their employment, visa status and their future.

The Indian IT industry body Nasscom is asking the US Labor Department to allow Indian IT employees to stay back longer as India closes its borders.

As of now, Indians who lose their job in the country can stay a maximum of two months before they need to leave the country. Nasscom wants it extended to six months.
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"We have requested the Departments of Homeland Service, Labor and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a 90 day grace period for professionals to depart the U.S. following expiration of their H-1B/ L-1 visas,” Nasscom said.

H-1B is a work visa that allows skilled Indians to work in the US for up to six years. This is the most sought after visa among immigrants as it allows to work for multiple employers at the same time. L1 visas are given to the foreign workers who are temporarily transferred to the country.

Several Indian employees filed a petition to the White House seeking extension of the post-unemployment period. “Most H-1B workers are from India and cannot travel home with children who are US citizens as many nations announced an entry ban, including India. H-1B workers cater to the economy at large, mainly supporting the IT Industry with high tax contributions,” the petition said.

This is crucial for Indian employees as they can not avail unemployment benefits in the US. They have no social security benefits either. So, if they lose jobs, they will have to return to India along with their families.

The US Labor Department said that as many as 3.28 million Americans registered to claim unemployment benefits in a week, after the pandemic struck.

Researchers estimate that as many as 47 million people in the US can go unemployed during the recession — and the H1-B visa holders will be the first to go.

Nasscom is also asking employers to allow Indians to work from home. “We have sought ease of Labor Condition Application (LCA) norms to allow for work from home,” Nasscom added. The LCA is submitted by the companies sponsoring the H1-B employees. The employers can not file the petition for the H1-B visa without LCA.

Meanwhile, the United States reported over 4,000 Coronavirus deaths so far, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE). That is more than double the count three days earlier — and over 40% of the deaths in the US were in New York. The total number of Coronavirus infections also spiked to 163,000, as on March 31.

See also:
Coronavirus in US: Over 4,000 dead and 40% of them are from New York

H1B workers seek 180 instead of 60-day stay in US post-unemployment period