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US govt may pull back move ending H-1B visa extensions

US govt may pull back move ending H-1B visa extensions

The US government is likely to withdraw its move ending granting extensions to H-1B visa-holders who were waiting for permanent residency — the Green Card — which could have led to the deportation of at least 500,000 Indians.

An announcement is expected shortly from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which runs the programme, according to Immigration Voice, an advocacy group that has been campaigning for a better deal for H-1B visa-holders from India, who have to wait the longest for their Green Card because of the system of annual country-cap.

“We are ECSTATIC to share this Breaking News,” Immigration Voice said in a post on its Facebook page Monday evening that it had succeeded “in protecting its members and getting USCIS to change its policy regarding H-1B renewal.”

It added: “USCIS has announced to us that it is retracting its policy to deny all H-1B visa through (beyond) year 6 based on section 104. This is a GREAT development. And we thank USCIS to make the right decision.”

The proposal, in the form of an internal memo that had gone around the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees USCIS, had set out to end the provision of granting extensions to H-1B visa holders whose applications for permanent residency (Green Card) had been accepted.

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 sent a wave of panic coursing through the community of H-1B workers here 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 specialty occupations.

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.

For Indians, that wait could stretch for years, given the massive backlog caused by the system of per-country annual cap on the number of permanent residencies — by one estimate it would take an Indian 70 years to get there, at today’s rate of clearance.

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Tags: Green Card H1-B Visa USCIS