The New Year celebrations of lakhs of Indians living in the US came to an abrupt halt on December 30, 2017 when media sources reported that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is drafting a policy that could curb the indefinite extension for H-1B visa holders who are on their way to get a green card and force them to be deported to India.
No Changes Sought
Though scores of Indians were terrified and their loved ones back at home clueless about what would happen next, a breather came in the form of the statement made by USCIS on January 9, 2018. In that statement, the USCIS mentioned that it is not considering any regulatory change that might force H1B visa holders to leave the country. No changes in interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, were being considered. This section provides H-1B extensions beyond the usual 6-year limit.
It also added that even if changes were being sought, it would not lead to eliminated of visa holders as employers would have the power to seek extensions in one-year increments as per section 106(a)-(b) of AC21.
This statement provided immense relief to more than half million Indians for whom the wait for a green card could be up to 12 years.
A Threat to the US
It is a fact that this policy change would have been introduced, it would not only have threatened Indians living in the US, but it would also have harmed the US economy too. Confirming this, a spokesperson from the US Chamber of Commerce had earlier stated that it would be a bad policy to tell highly skilled individuals applying for permanent residency and those who have been in the US for many years that they are not welcome anymore. Such a policy would harm US business, economy and the nation.
Giving Up the American Dream
An immigration law firm’s Managing Partner recently stated that if people faced a major hurdle to settling in the US, it would discourage them to have an American dream. Even students would no longer want to enroll at a university in the US.
It is a fact that deportation of H1B holders would have taken a toll on Indian IT companies whose employees are usually the largest beneficiaries of the H-1B visas. So, the IT sector breathed a sigh of relief too, and it is evident by the reactions offered on USCIS statement.
The Managing Director of a Services Research Company in India stated that it was a relief because a lot of projects might have to be discontinued and there would have been a complete disruption in companies and employees’ lives if the feared changes were implemented. The situation of moving 500,000 is unthinkable.
Indians Hold the Most H1B Visas
Indian nationals have gained scores of H1B visas due to their vital IT skills. These professionals helped the US to overcome an acute shortage of technology professionals. Even tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook depend heavily on H1B visa to hire genius minds from nations like India so their value cannot be diminished.
Another Threat Looming
Though the current threat seems to be eliminated but before H1B holders cheer up more, they should consider that Indians would not have it easy in the future anymore. Since taking over the oval office in January 2017, Trump has ensured that the visa laws are more stringent than before. The premium processing for H-1B has been halted, and application requirements for computer programmers are tougher than ever before. More of such changes might also be in the pipeline. So, Indians should chase the American Dream with caution.
On January 9, 2018, USCIS also mentioned that the agency is considering several policy and regulatory changes to ensure that President Trump’s “Buy American Hire American” executive order could be carried out with ease. Some of the changes being considered include a thorough review of various employment-based visa programs.
What Can H1B Holders Do?
A wise option that must be considered by every H1-B visa holders is to connect with an immigration lawyer in their locality and seek his or her advice. The lawyer would help in tracking policy changes and ensure that H1-B visa holders get the opportunity to protect their own interests. An attorney would also represent H1-B clients in legal issues like detainment by the USCIS which is happening at an alarming rate since President Trump tool control of the Oval Office.
A Trusted Immigration Lawyer
If you are an immigrant who is seeking the services of an immigration lawyer in Orange County then you must consider contacting Mr. George W. Abbes as he can lend expert advice on various immigration-related matters such as deportation and removal defense, immigration & criminal convictions, family-based immigration, deferred action, criminal immigration consultations, employment-based immigration, citizenship and change of status.