Around 2,00,000 H1B visa workers may lose their legal status by June


Several Indians who are staying in the USA on an H1B visa, might land in trouble and lose their legal status by June, due to the coronavirus epidemic. One such story is about a couple staying in the USA on an H1B visa. Manasi Vasvada is doing dental practice in Passaic Country, New Jersey for the last two years. But recently when the corona has hit the USA, it is closed since mid-March. She is on an unpaid leave of absence since then. She only has three weeks until she loses her legal status to stay in the country.

Her husband is also a dentist with an H1B visa that expires in June. The H1B visa is given to people with special skills and can only stay in the country for as long as 60 days without being paid. The couple is now in constant fear due to the current situation in the USA.

There might come a situation when such people with visas expiring cannot stay in a foreign country but also cannot come to their homeland due to the closing of the international borders indefinitely. The above-mentioned couple also faces the same situation. Also they have a student loan $520,000 from the advanced dental degrees that they completed in the US universities. Without receiving any kind of salary, they cannot afford to clear their loans. They are struck in a deadlock where they do not know how they will come out of this situation. They are facing constant fear, pressure, etc.

There are around 250,000 guest workers in the USA who face the same situation as the couple. Around 200,000 members are on an H1B visa, according to an immigration analyst. He also said several other people who are also not seeking the residential status might be sent back home.

The situation has become worst in the last few months, as several Americans lose their jobs. But the H1B visa holders might land in trouble which these Americans cant. Reducing the wages, and asking them to work from home might alnd these H1B visa holders in trouble. Even if these H1B visa holders do not lsoe the jobs, they might face the same situation while renewing their visas.

Doug Rand, who worked under Obama in technology and immigration department had said that this crisis in visas is a catastrophe at the human level and economic level. These H1B visa holders might have their entire families dependent on them to stay in the country, especially children who spent their whole life in the country.

TechNet, a lobbying group whose members include Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, had sent a letter to State and Homeland security departments on April 17 had formed a coalition of trade groups calling for relief of foreign-born workers. As part of the letter, they requested a delay in work authorization expiration until at least Sept 10.

The government has extended the deadline for tax filing. Several experts feel that the same thing could be applied for visas as well. But Trump’s administration did not give any kind of statement on this. But the government is looking to provide some kind of support for these kinds of people.

The number of people who are applying for non-immigrant visas has declined since the past years. In 2019, it is 8.7 million to 10.9 million in 2015. A unit of the Department of Homeland Security hasΒ been suspended since March 18 and won’t resume until June 4 at the earliest, a 78-day gap in service.

Recently Trump had also tweeted that there will be a temporary ban on all the immigration activities to protect American jobs. The very next day he passed an order to block people from entering the country from receiving green cards for 60 days. This has caused disruptions to the foreign-born workers.

Immediately after Trump announced this, several companies are looking to move jobs away from the USA. One such company is Duolingo. The CEO of Duolingo has tweeted that if this is the situation, they might look to move the jobs to a foreign land. Duolingo is planning to hire an employee who was asked to leave by another company. The worker is on an O-1 visa which is for individuals with extraordinary capabilities. Now with these restrictions in place, the workers have to wait for 6-9 months for his work and visa authorization.

The companies are facing the hardest decisions. Some are choosing to fire foreign employees whose visas require them to be paid. Others are keeping H-1B workers on staff to maintain their legal status while firing U.S. workers. There is a risk involved in the above approaches because the companies who treat workers differently based on their immigration status expose themselves to potential discrimination lawsuits. A stable future for some workers is looking like a distant dream.

One more example is that a person named Shawn Noronha, a 23-year-old Australian living in San Francisco. In January, he was removed from his job at a fintech startup. He found a new position at a startup that is willing to sponsor his visa. Covid-19 hit before he could get to an Australian consulate. While he changed his visa to a tourist visa, he had very few months left before moving away from the country. All his savings are currently being used up. He is also stuck up in the vicious deadlock wither to continue to stay in the country and persuade his American dream or leave the country and return back to his homeland.

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