BENGALURU: In a major relief to Indian tech professionals, the United States has allowed a grace period of 60 days to H1-B visa and green card applicants, who have been served notices for submission of various documents, for responding to the requests in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the 60-day grace period for responding to its requests will include requests for evidence; continuations to request evidence (N-14); notices of intent to deny; notices of intent to revoke; notices of intent to rescind and notices of intent to terminate regional investment centers; and filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
“USCIS will consider the responses to the requests and notices received within 60 days before taking any action,” it said. Under the normal procedure, H1-B or non-immigrant visas granted to those with specialised skills can remain in the country only for 60 days after they are being laid off by their employer. Analysts say the move may benefit the Indian IT/ ITes tier-1 companies who would prefer hiring the workforce from the current H1-B visa pool as compared to applying for the new visas under a stricter regime.
“Tier-1 IT firms may now look for talent among the available H1-B visa pool. Similarly, mnay start-ups in the US who would hire employees on project basis for short terms,” said Pareekh Jain, Founder and Lead Analyst, EIIRTRend and Pareekh Consulting. The announcement comes days after Indian tech professionals who are the largest beneficiaries of H1-B visas in the US had sought a grace period of 180 days to retain the visa status.
Earlier, President Trump had said that there will be a new legislation in the country which will temporarily halt immigration and work towards securing employment of the Americans. This had triggered a panic among the Indian techies currently holding H1-B visas especially after unemployment claims in the US surged to a record high at 3.8 million.Nearly two lakh H1-B visa holders could lose their status by June, a majority being Indians.