65,000 Indians With H1B Visa Staring At Unemployment, Deportation, Uncertainty Over Visa Rules

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the tech sector but also has given a massive blow to the world economy, resulting in massive layoffs and unemployment.

Many companies in the US have started downsizing, due to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Indians with H-1B Visas Getting Laid off

Priya K, a techie employed in a tech startup in USA is an H-1B visa holder, which means there shouldn’t be a problem for her to be assured of her job security.

However, she has been with the thoughts of leaving the country, fearing that her company like many others in the USA, may get rid of H-1B workers.

Sources estimate that about 20-30% of H-1B and H4 visa holders may be forced to return home in the next 5-7 months. 

In some cases, companies have already informed their H-1B employees that they are on top of the list of being fired.

There are close to 3,00,000 H-1B visa holders in the US. It does not matter that some of them have been working in the US for as long as 10-15 years and are on their way to become permanent residents or citizens.

Indians with H-1B Visa to Go Under Fear

The series of events for a H-1B visa holder is as followed, if he/she is laid off.

  • If H-1B visas are valid and their job contract is terminated, they will have 60 days to find a new job. However, given the travel restrictions and recession, it will be difficult if not impossible, to find a new job.
  • If their H-1B visa is expiring, renewing them now is tough since the USCIS and embassies are closed.
  • In case of rejections, they will have to change their status to B2 visa (visitor). This means they cannot look for new jobs. So they will have to come back to India, find a new employer to sponsor the H-1B.
  • Many here who had applied for passport renewals are stuck. They cannot extend their visa nor change their status.
  • If in case, the visa holder is manages to find a job in this stipulated period of 60 days, his/her new employer has to file a form to update the visa holder’s employment details with the USCIS.
  • Normally, most companies would file a request for “expedited processing”, which would allow this process to be over within 15 days.
  • However, like we said, it has discontinued this service from March 20, “until further notice”.

H1B Visa Holders Demand an Increase in Grace Period

Fearing massive layoffs in America due to the degrading economy, the H-1B visa holders have demanded the Trump administration to extend their permissible post-job loss limit to stay in the US from the existing 60 to 180 days.

It is estimated that there are more than 65,000 H-1B visa holders from India in the USA currently.

So now, the H-1B visa holders have started a petition campaign on the White House website to extend the timeline for their stay in the US to 180 days after they are being laid off.

The petition has so far attracted more than 20,000 signatures. It requires a minimum of 100,000 petitions to get a response from the White House.

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