Headline, Immigration

Petition seeks H-1B visa stamping within US

Currently tens of thousands of H-1Bs scramble to get outside the US to get their visas stamped

The Mahesh family in Iowa has been staying up at night for the past many days to look for a visa stamping date in their home country India.

The family that hasn’t visited India for three years now, have missed many important family events as they could not ensure their timely return to the US due to the current massive backlog for stamping dates for H-1B visas.

While the Mahesh family is frustrated about their inability to plan a date for travel and return, things have been looking somber for Kumars from Seattle.

Read: Everything you need to know about H-1B Visa program (April 26, 2022)

N. Kumar’s mother who is in Bengaluru, India, has been keeping unwell and had required hospitalization twice in the past three months.

Being the only son, Kumar wants to travel but an inability to secure a stamping date for his H-1B visa has been delaying the travel for him.

“In my area of work, I can’t be away from the office for too long and I do need to give a return date to my employer,” he says.

“Because of this inability of slots and the tedious rule of having to travel outside of the country, I am unable to plan a visit. Also, I have grown kids who cannot miss school for many days.”

“So, a trip with them would also entail the risk of them losing their school days. I do not wish anyone to be caught up in a dilemma like I am,” says Kumar.

Mahesh and Kumar are just two examples of how a delayed visa stamping cycle is affecting tens of thousands of professionals working in the US on visas.

Read: Indians bagged 300,000 H-1B visas in FY 2021, 74% of total (April 18, 2022)

Many Indians who find themselves in this frustrating situation are doing everything from approaching Congressmen to conducting rallies and online awareness campaigns.

Recently, a petition has been started on Change.org to urge the USCIS to change the cumbersome rule of having to travel outside the country to get their visas stamped after they have been approved in the US.

The petition has struck a resonance with Indians who are among the worst affected by this delay due to a large number of H-1B petitioners who require stamping.

The petition that has been signed by over 52,000 people so far says, “Tens of thousands of H-1Bs are approved annually. Once approval is obtained thousands of said US resident workers scramble to get time off work to travel to their home countries, Canada or Mexico to get their H1B stamped to facilitate international travel.

Read: H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models (May 18, 2022)

“Since Covid-19, newly minted H-1B workers resident in the US and H-1B holders with expired visa stamps have struggled greatly to leave the US to get stamped,” it says urging “the department of homeland security to begin stamping H-1B domestically (within the US).”

“An appointment at a US consulate costs $190, flight tickets and possible hotel costs could potentially add another $600 – $2,000,” it notes. “The department of homeland security could charge upwards of $250 for this service and H-1Bholders would be willing to pay.”

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