Indian American member Ajay Bhutoria highlights challenges faced by H1-B workers amid layoffs spree
Amid a continuing job layoffs spree, a sub panel of a US presidential commission has recommended extension of the grace period for H1-B workers, who have lost their jobs, from 60 days to 180 days.
If accepted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it would give such workers, a large majority of whom are Indians, more time to find new jobs, an essential condition for staying on in the US.
Read: Laid-off employees on H-1B visas share their stories (January 27, 2023)
“Immigration subcommittee recommendation for DHS and USCIS to extend the grace period for H1-B workers, who have lost their jobs, from 60 days to 180 days,” Ajay Bhutoria, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders tweeted.
In his presentation to the panel on Tuesday Bhutoria highlighted the significant challenges faced by laid off H1-B workers in finding new jobs and completing the necessary paperwork in current time frame of 60 days. Recognizing the importance of retaining highly skilled tech employees, members of the commission 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.
Bhutoria also suggested that USCIS grant employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel documents to individuals who have approved I-140 employment-based visa petitions in the EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 categories, and have been waiting in the visa backlog for five or more years, regardless of whether they have filed applications for adjustment of status.
By doing so, the United States can continue to benefit from the expertise of highly skilled foreign-born workers, including thousands from India, while their immigrant visas are being finalized, he argued.
The change in policy would also improve the lives of many foreign-born scientists, engineers, and physicians who often face significant uncertainty and stress as they wait for their visas to be approved, Bhutoria explained. Granting EADs would provide them and their families with greater stability and security.
Read: Presidential Advisory Panel Recommends Extending Grace Period For Retrenched H-1B Workers To 180 Days (March 15, 2023)
This recommendation was discussed in detail by the commission members who felt that further information on it was needed. It will now be discussed again at the next meeting of the commission.
Significantly, based on Bhutoria’s recommendation, the US State Department has recently announced the launch of a pilot programme for H-1B stamping in the US, which will provide convenience and flexibility for H-1B visa holders who need to travel abroad.
Read: Indian government asked to help laid off Indians (January 24, 2023)
Read: Indian techies prepare for worst amid lay-off spree (January 10, 2023)
Read: In holiday season carnage, tech sector shed more than 50,000 jobs in November (December 29, 2022)
Read: How workers can stay in the US after losing jobs (December 20, 2022)