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Relief For Indian Techies, US Says no Change in H-1B Visa Extension Policy

The announcement comes days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering tightening H-1B visa rules that could lead to deportation of 7,50,000 Indians.

In a relief for Indian techies, US authorities on Tuesday said that the Trump administration is not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country.

The announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) comes days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering tightening H-1B visa rules that could lead o deportation of 7,50,000 Indians.

The reports had said it was mulling ending extensions for H-1B holders.

The USCIS “is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing the interpretation of section certain language in Section 104 C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) statute that states that USCIS may grant the extensions,” an official said.

This provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.

“Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead,” Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations at the USCIS, said in a statement.

“The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programmes,” Withington said.

The statement comes after last week’s news report by US- based news agency McClatchy DC Bureau according to which the US was considering new regulations to prevent the extension of H-1B visas, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals.

The USCIS was never considering such a policy change, he said adding that “any suggestion that USCIS changed its position because of pressure is absolutely false.”

An estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders could have been deported if the administration decided to go ahead with the proposal, which was in line with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” vision to boost manufacturing and protect local jobs for American.

The move had triggered panic through the community of H-1B workers from India, a large number of whom were employed with some of America’s top IT companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google and other sectors — Green Card sponsorship comes mostly, only actually, from US companies.

Indian IT companies operating in the US — such as Infosys, TCS and Wipro — do not typically sponsor their H-1B employees for Green Card. They send them back to India at the end of the maximum stipulated period of 6 years allowed on this visa type, given to foreigners hired by American companies for speciality occupations.

The reported move had been opposed by both the industry and several lawmakers.

“It would be tremendously bad policy to tell highly-skilled individuals who are applying for permanent residency and have been working in the US for several years that they are no longer welcome,” a US Chambers of Commerce spokesperson said in a statement earlier when the news broke that US Seeks No Extension of H-1B Visas.

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), a trade association of Indian information technology, had warned that any disruptive move on the visa front would be detrimental for both India and the US.

The USCIS has a Congressional mandate to issue 65,000 H- 1B visas in general category and another 20,000 for those applicants having higher education — masters and above — from US universities in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

H1-B visa programme –

The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H) which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the United States

The H-1B programme offers temporary US visas that allow companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals working in areas with shortages of qualified American workers.

An H-1B visa is granted for three years, with the provision of three more with one extension after which visa holders return to their countries. Or, if approved for Green Card, wait in the US using extensions.



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