The extension of non-immigrant visa holders, who face challenges as a direct result of the national Covid-19 emergency, could be given special consideration or expedited processing on a case-by-case basis. , the United States said on Tuesday.
In the Indian context, non-immigrant visas prominently include B-1 and B-2 visas for business or travel purposes, F-1 visas for students, J-1 visas for visitors mainly researchers and doctors, H-1B for liberal professions IT and L1 for intra-company transferees in supervisory or management positions.
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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said Tuesday it has taken steps to help individuals, employers and others with some of the immigration challenges they face. as a direct result of the national Covid-19 emergency.
“For those in the United States who require an extension of their nonimmigrant stay, USCIS may extend their stay depending on the circumstances,” a USCIS spokesperson told PTI.
“We may also provide special consideration or expedited processing to those who may need it on a case-by-case basis,” the official said.
The response from USCIS, when asked about H-1B visas, indicated that there is no blanket extension of nonimmigrant visas during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crisis and that a person must apply for visa extension or stay in the United States explaining their situation.
“Upon request, USCIS can provide special support to individuals who may be affected by circumstances beyond their control,” the spokesperson said.
USCIS, the spokesperson said, continues to analyze the issues and other possible steps the agency could take to address some of these challenges and will consider recommendations from the public.
“We will continue to communicate any changes we make across multiple platforms to ensure the public is fully informed of the steps USCIS is taking to address the challenges resulting from this national emergency,” the spokesperson said.
The Department of Homeland Security said earlier that it recognizes there are immigration challenges as a direct result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
“We continue to carefully analyze these issues and leverage our resources to effectively address these challenges within our existing authorities. DHS also continues to take action to protect the American people and our communities and is considering a number of policies and procedures to improve employment opportunities for American workers during this pandemic,” he said.
“Generally, nonimmigrants must leave the United States before their permitted period of admission expires. However, we recognize that nonimmigrants may unexpectedly remain in the United States beyond their permitted period of stay due to Covid-19,” the notification reads, adding that people could apply for a visa extension.
If the candidates complete their forms within the time limits, their presence will not be considered “illegal” and if necessary, “the authorization to work with the same employer, subject to the same conditions of prior approval, is automatically extended for up to 240 days when an application for an extension of stay is filed in time,” the notification reads.
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The United States Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS) added that they “remind petitioners and applicants that they may consider delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding to whether or not to excuse delays in filing documents due to extraordinary circumstances”. According to the rules, if an employer terminates an H-1B holder’s contract, the employee must find a new job within 60 days, in order to maintain visa status. The Indian IT specialists requested an extension of this grace period from 60 days to 180 days.
According to USCIS, Indians are the main beneficiaries of the H-1B visa program.