H1B Visa Stamping Can Soon Happen Inside USA: Big Relief For Indian Workers?
A Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders has approved the provision of stamping of H-1B visas inside the U. S.
If this is accepted by President Joe Biden, it will come as a big relief to thousands of foreign professionals, particularly from India.
What is the H-1B visa?
For those not in the know, the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U. S. companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
It is primarily used by technology companies that depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The current mandate requires one to apply for a visa stamp at a U. S. Consulate or Embassy abroad before one’s H-1B status can be activated.
What is the issue?
A large number of applicants either new or waiting for the renewal of H-1B visas are facing uncertainty due to long visa application appointments in countries like India.
The current wait period is more than a year.
A recommendation was moved by Indian American Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a member of the commission.
He told members of the commission that H-1B visa holders given the opportunity to work in the United States have contributed to the “growth of our economy, innovation and economic development.”
Unable to return home in cases of emergencies
He further said that these visa holders face problems and even forced family separation during the renewal or when they travel overseas.
“There are situations where a lot of people, whose parents have been in ICU or in critical condition or their death of a parent, but they could not travel back to the home country with the fear that if there is often delay in the visa appointments in the home countries,” he said
The waiting period to get a visa appointment in India is 844 days.
“So, they cannot get an appointment and they cannot get stamping done and they get stuck,” said Mr. Bhutoria.
“What happens then, they potentially lose the job.
Wife and kids are here separated and with no means to support themselves or many times spouses don’t drive.
A lot of these kinds of situations create a disruption in their life while they were given the full opportunity to work here legally,” he argued.
The recommendation that was approved says that the USCIS (U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Commission) should update its policy to permit the extension of and stamping of visas in the US.
“Alternatively, USCIS should also consider providing advanced travel documents to these visa holders when they will travel out of the country with expired visa stamping so that they can re-enter the U. S. without having to get re-stamping in their home countries,” Mr. Bhutoria said.
Problems of family separation, mental health and dignity
Several members of the commission said that the situation is also an issue of family separation and mental health.
Chief Commissioner Sonal Shah, an Indian American, said this is an issue of family separation and dignity of H-1B visa holders.
“That’s an easy way to put fear into families,” she said.
She said that the commission is concerned about the dignity of the people and how it can “make it easier and a dignified process and a dignified approach”.
It’s one thing to have rules, it’s another to not hold the dignity of families and individuals,” Ms. Shah added.