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H1B visa: Time running out for laid-off professionals, says FIIDS

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Time is running out for laid off H1B professionals as under the existing laws they need to leave the country within 60 days of losing their employment status, giving sleepless nights to the thousands of Indian tech workers and their family members.

“This has a humanitarian impact on them as their families, including their US-born children are uprooted abruptly, and those who were laid off in the earlier months are now running out of time,” said Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), which took up their cases with lawmakers and federal administration.

Also read: US to start receiving H1B visa applications from March 1

Plea to extend time window

While the US Citizenship and Immigration Services is considering their request to extend the existing time window to 180 days, the process is likely to take up some time, leaving no other option for these professionals other than to leave the country.

“FIIDS appeals to the USCIS, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consider a request to expedite the extension of grace period. FIIDS also appeals to the elected officials, tech executives, and community leaders to emphasise the need and urgency to increase the grace period,” the foundation said in a media statement on Friday.

Since last year, more than 2.5 lakh such professionals have been laid off in the United States. This number continues to grow with companies like Meta announcing another set of tens of thousands of layoffs, FIIDS said.

“A large number of these professionals are taxpaying H1B immigrants (estimated 1 lakh), particularly from India, who need to leave the US if they cannot find another employer filing for their H1B in 60 days,” it said.

All eyes on White House

Early this week, President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, recommended the federal government to extend the grace period for H1B workers, who have lost their jobs, from the existing 60 days to 180 days so that the workers have enough opportunities to find a new job or other alternatives.

Also read: Indian talent moving to Canada due to outdated H1B visa policy, US lawmakers told

It is now up to the White House to accept the recommendations. However, it would be too late for the current H1B visa holders who have lost their jobs since last October.

FIIDS, in its statement, thanked Senate majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer that this issue can be fixed by an administrative process in his discussion with Indian American leaders on a recent call on March 13. It applauded the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) for the discussion and support for this extension in their meeting on March 14.

“We also appealed to the House Subcommittee on Immigration headed by Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal to make a similar recommendation to the USCIS,” it said.

(With Agency inputs)


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