New policy allows individuals to obtain work permits at hard times like a job loss, serious illness or disability
In what can serve as a huge relief to thousands of Indians and other immigrants on work-based visas in the US, a new policy alert just released by the USCIS offers to provide EAD to people facing compelling circumstances during their stay in the country.
While a loss of job does qualify as a compelling circumstance, some of the other listed circumstances include undergoing a serious illness or disability, employer dispute or retaliation and some other substantial harm to the applicant or significant disruption to the employer.
The new policy significantly benefits Indians as in the recent past many of them faced hardships as the job market in America looks increasingly volatile.
For an Indian working on an H-1B visa in the US, a loss of job means that they get 60 days to find a new job or have to leave the country.
Since thousands of Indians are stuck in a decades long green card backlog, they do not have a chance of obtaining permanent residency or green card in the foreseeable future, therefore a job loss followed by an inability to find a job in a short span of two months translates into selling assets, and shifting bag and baggage to their home country.
The purpose of this new alert according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is to address the eligibility criteria and standards for applications for employment authorization involving compelling circumstances.
The USCIS may provide employment authorization to beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions who face backlogs in immigrant visa availability.
The USCIS says in its policy alert, “Beneficiaries who face adverse circumstances resulting from termination from employment and loss of non-immigrant status, may qualify for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if they face compelling circumstances beyond the usual hardship associated with job loss.”
The post-Covid times have seen many high-performing individuals working on H-1B visas losing their jobs almost without any intimation.
The recent spate of job-cuts in the country, significantly impacted work-based visa holders, a majority of whom are Indians who had to relocate on a short notice and often faced difficult prospects like selling the house or readjusting their school-going kids in newer settings by shifting them back to India.
In many cases, most of these kids had never lived in India and were now presented with a unique challenge to adjust in a new country.
Whether the measure would give relief to Indians who may face a job loss or other life-altering situations is to be seen, but for now the policy does seem to consider compelling circumstances and may provide some respite.