US presidential advisory panel recommends to extend grace period for H1-B workers to 180 days
A presidential advisory sub-committee has recommended the federal government to extend the grace period for H1-B 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.
“The immigration subcommittee recommends the Department of Homeland Security and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the grace period for H1-B workers, who have lost their jobs, from 60 days to 180 days,” Ajay Jain Bhutoria, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, said on Tuesday.
In his presentation, Bhutoria highlighted the significant challenges faced by H1-B workers laid off from their jobs. The current 60-day grace period presents numerous hurdles, including finding a new job within a tight timeframe, complex paperwork for transferring H1-B status, and delays in processing at USCIS, he said.
As a result, many H1-B workers are forced to leave the country which could result in a loss of skilled labour for the United States, he told members of the advisory commission.
Bhutoria, in his presentation, strongly advocated for the extension of the grace period, citing the need to support highly skilled tech employees who he said are essential to the economic growth of the United States. The extension would also provide affected employees with more time to navigate the complex and time-consuming process of finding new employment opportunities and transferring their H1-B status, he said.
Members of the commission, recognising the importance of supporting and retaining highly skilled tech employees, supported the move. Bhutoria's recommendation to extend the grace period for H1-B workers is a critical step towards ensuring that highly skilled tech employees can continue to contribute to the economic growth of the United States without fear of losing their status.
H1-B visa holders face significant consequences when they are laid off from their jobs. After termination, they have a 60-day grace period during which they must either leave the United States, seek a change of immigration status, or have another employer file an H1-B petition on their behalf. If they do not do so within 60 days, they are considered to be in violation of the terms of their non-immigrant visa.
However, if a new employer files a new H1-B petition for the visa holder within 60 days of a previous employer's termination, the change of employer petition will typically be granted even if there was a gap in the employee's H1-B status.
H1-B workers encounter many barriers that make it difficult for them to complete all requirements for maintaining their status within the current 60-day grace period. The job market can be challenging, which is especially true for workers in specialised fields, he said.
Tech companies typically conduct four to five rounds of interviews, which take several weeks before a candidate is offered a job.
Even if an H1-B worker is able to find a new job within 60 days, the process of transferring their H1-B status can be time-consuming and complex given the significant amount of paperwork.
Additionally, based on delays happening at USCIS, this process can take longer than 60 days to complete. This can result in the loss of skilled labour for the United States as these workers may not be able to return unless they get a new H1-B, which may take years.
It is only a question of time before the companies’ economy transitions from a few months of slowdown to a boom period, which brings about a significant increase in commercial activities and opens up new opportunities for highly skilled tech employees to support the economic growth, Bhutoria argued.
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