Time is running out for laid off professionals to stay legally in the US, says Indian diaspora body
Warning that time is running out for laid off H-1B professionals from India to stay legally in the US, an Indian diaspora organization has sought urgent extension of their grace period to 180 days.
â€œTime is running out for laid off professionals to stay legally in the US, the USCIS needs to urgently extend their grace period to avoid humanitarian impact and also to retain US competitive edge,â€ Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) stated.
â€œOver ~250,000+ have been laid off in the USA since Oct 2022 and this number is growing with companies like Meta announcing another set of tens of thousands of layoffs,â€ said Khanderao Kand, President and Policy Director of FIIDS.
Read: Panel for extending grace period for H1-B workers to 180 days (March 15, 2023)
â€œA large number of these professionals are tax-paying H-1B immigrants (estimated 100,000), particularly from India, who need to leave the US if they cannot find another employer filing for their H-1B in 60 days,â€ he stated.
â€œThis has a humanitarian impact on them as their families, including their US born children are uprooted abruptly, and those who were laid off in the earlier months are now running out of time,â€ Kand added.
FIIDS said it had â€œalso discussed with tech executives, startup leaders and venture capitalists, who supported this humanitarian need, and noted that these highly skilled laid off STEM/tech professionals are important for maintaining the US competitive advantage in the world, especially in the emerging technologies like, AI and Cyber security.â€
â€œAs Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo called out in their letter to USCIS, departure of STEM professionals from the US is also a national security threat,â€ FIIDS stated.
FIIDS said it has been working on creating awareness and appealed to President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security(DHS) secretary and director of United States Commission on Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the grace period to six months to a year on humanitarian grounds as well as to stop a brain drain of this STEM professionals to retain the US competitive edge on emerging technologies against China.
Read: Laid-off employees on H-1B visas share their storiesÂ (January 27, 2023)
As a part of awareness and policy engagement, the FIIDS launched a media campaign in Jan 2023 creating awareness about this issue. Subsequently in February 2023, FIIDS also launched a Change petition that received ~2600 sign-ups in a week.
FIIDS reached out to elected representatives, many of them like Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Shri Thanedar, and Raja Krishnamurthy are also supportive of the extension, it said.
FIIDS said it had discussed the impact with various organizations and expressed gratitude for support from US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), US India Business Council (USIBC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) South California, and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).
FIIDS also thanked the Senate majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer for noting in his discussion with Indian American leaders on a recent call on March 13 that this issue can be fixed by an administrative process.
Read: Indian government asked to help laid off IndiansÂ (January 24, 2023)
FIIDS also applauded the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) for the discussion and support for this extension in their meeting on March 14.
â€œEven though the USCIS is positively considering the extension, it is yet to be done and the time is running out for the tech professionals,â€ it noted appealing to the USCIS, and DHS to consider a request to expedite the extension of grace period.
It also appealed to elected officials, tech executives, and community leaders to emphasize the need and urgency to increase the grace period.