200,000 H1-B visa holders hope US will extend status to September as June deadline comes to a close

200,000 H1-B visa holders hope US will extend status to September as June deadline comes to a close
200,000 H1-B visa holders hope US will extend status to September as June deadline comes to a close Wikipedia

  • Over 200,000 H1-B visa holders in the US are left stranded because they would lose their legal status by the end of June.
  • This will largely impact those working in tech companies since almost a third of the visas are obtained by the IT employees.
  • The move comes as the US President Donald Trump halted the green card issuance process for 60 days as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The US issued 8.7 million non-immigrant visas in 2019, according to the State department.
After US President Donald Trump suspended immigration services to ‘protect American jobs’, over 2 00,000 H1-B visa holders in the US are left stranded because they would lose their legal status by the end of June.

According to Jeremy Neufeld, an immigration policy analyst at a think tank, Niskanen Center, nearly 250,000 temporary workers in the US are trying to obtain green cards, including those on H1-B visas.

But all of them might be asked to go home. Days after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) relaxed H1-B visa deadlines and delayed other immigration activities, Trump halted the green card issuance process for 60 days as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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While the move does not imply that the workers seeking non-immigrant visas won’t be granted one, it will impact those seeking permanent residency. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said that it may extend special support to some people — those affected by the Coronavirus chaos largely.

Earlier, the USCIS said that non-immigrants can now apply for an extension of stay or change of status permit. “US Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to accept and process applications and petitions, and many of our forms are available for online filing,” it said.

In the meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the US is surging. The US Labor Department reported that a lot of Americans are filing claims for unemployment benefits. The claims have now reached 22 million and the Federal Reserve anticipates that nearly 47 million jobs are on the line.
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But, those on H1-B visas are more vulnerable. This is because 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 issued 8.7 million non-immigrant visas in 2019, according to the State department.

If their employers refuse to pay a certain minimum salary, send them on unpaid leaves or ask them to work in a remote setup, that is equivalent to violating the visa norms. “Even if they don’t lose their jobs, workers can find themselves in a dilemma if they can’t get their visas renewed during this period of disruption, the Bloomberg report said.
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This will largely impact those working in tech companies since almost a third of the visas are obtained by the IT employees.

Given that, TechNet, a group whose members include Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, appealed for some relief for the foreign workers. They are seeking extension of the expiration dates until September.

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