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US now says no change in H-1B extension rules

news
09 January 2018

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has clarified that the Trump administration is not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country, giving a big relief to Indian technology employees under US work visa.

The announcement by the US authorities comes days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering an end to H-1B visa extensions that could have lead to deportation of around 7,50,000 Indians.

The reports have said the US administration may either change H-1B visa rules or alternatively change the interpretation of languge in Section 104 C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) that states that USCIS may grant the extensions.

''The USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing 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," reports quoting an official said.

This clears the way for extension of H-1B visas beyond its 6-year term, depending on the demand for the job.

"Even if it were, such a change is not likely to 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."

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

Nasscom 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.

The reduction in visas under the H-1B programme that allows US companies to hire highly skilled foreign professionals in areas with shortages of qualified American workers has been in the air since President Donald Trump assumed office in January last year.





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