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USCIS says it’s not ending H-1B visa extensions

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The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has quelled the notion that the Trump administration is considering a proposal to end visa extensions for hundreds of thousands of H-1B holders while their applications for green card are pending.

A USCIS spokesman told McClatchy, which first reported the existence of such a proposal, that the agency “is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States.”

Under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC-21), H-1B visa holders are given extensions of one-year and three-year increments. According to the initial McClatchy report, the administration was considering ending the two extensions.

RELATED: Proposed move to end H-1B extensions may affect up to 400,000 Indians in US (January 2, 2018)

H-1B holders whose I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker form has been approved are entitled to a three-year extension under Section 104 of the law, while employees who have filed for Labor Certifications more than 365 days before their six-year H-1B visa term are granted a one-year extension under Section 106 of the legislation.

The McClatchy report had caused widespread panic among H-1B employees from India — more than two-thirds of H-1B holders are Indian nationals — with many newspapers reporting that, if the proposal is implemented, as many as 750,000 Indians and their family members would be forced to leave the United States.

RELATED: Will 750,000 Indians on H-1B be ‘self-deported’ from the United States? The answer is no. (January 7, 2018)

USCIS chief of media relations Jonathan Withington told McClatchy that that the “agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programs.”

However, he added, the “USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.”

The spokesman said, “Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead.”

Withington told the publication that the agency had never considered such a change.

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