A presidential advisory sub-committee has recommended that the grace period for hard-working H1-B visa holders, who have lost their jobs, be extended. Amid an unprecedented wave of job losses, particularly affecting Indian workers at major tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Meta, Amazon, and Twitter, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, announced yesterday that a subcommittee has recommended extending the grace period for H1-B visa holders who have lost their jobs.
This extension, which expands the current 60-day grace period to a generous 180 days, provides these hardworking individuals with more time to seek out new job opportunities or consider alternative options. Let’s give a big round of applause to the immigration subcommittee for taking this important step to safeguard the job security of our H1-B visa holders.
Many H-1B workers are being compelled to depart from the United States, potentially leading to a loss of skilled labor, he remarked. Bhutoria passionately advocated for the extension of the grace period during his presentation, emphasizing the importance of supporting highly skilled tech employees who are crucial to the country’s economic growth. According to him, this extension will grant affected workers additional time to manage the complicated and time-intensive procedures involved in securing new employment and transferring their H-1B status.
H-1B visa holders are faced with significant consequences upon being laid off from their jobs. Within a 60-day grace period after termination, they must either leave the United States, seek a change of immigration status, or have another employer file an H-1B petition on their behalf. Failure to comply within 60 days results in violation of their non-immigrant visa terms.
However, if a new employer files a new H-1B petition within 60 days of the previous employer’s termination, the change of employer petition is generally approved, even if there was a gap in the employee’s H-1B status.
According to him, workers in specialized fields often face numerous obstacles that hinder their ability to fulfill the necessary criteria for retaining their status within the allotted 60-day grace period. The job market can be quite competitive, making it even more challenging for them.
Typically, tech firms carry out four to five rounds of interviews, a process that lasts for multiple weeks before extending a job offer to a candidate.
The transfer of H-1B status for a worker who manages to secure a new job within the 60-day grace period can be quite challenging and time-consuming due to the extensive paperwork involved.
Furthermore, with the current USCIS delays, this process may exceed the 60-day timeframe, leading to the loss of skilled labor for the United States. In such cases, these workers may not be able to return unless they obtain a new H-1B, which could take several years.
Bhutoria contends that it is only a matter of time before companies experience a transition from a few months of economic slowdown to a boom period, characterized by a substantial increase in commercial activities. This, in turn, creates new opportunities for highly skilled tech employees to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
According to the 2023 Immigration Trends survey report published by Envoy Global, there has been a surge in demand to sponsor foreign talent in the US. However, immigration barriers are causing employers to relocate foreign national employees overseas and outsource jobs. The report also reveals that US immigration barriers have resulted in employers losing foreign talent, with 82 percent of them forced to depart the US due to their inability to obtain or extend an employment-based visa. Moreover, 94 percent of companies would hire more foreign nationals if there were fewer immigration barriers in the US.