The Biden administration has proved to be a boon for the H-1B visa holders as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has now instructed its officers to revert its earlier long-standing guidance issued in 2004.
What is H-1B Visa?
According to the Department of Labor website, “The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the US workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.”
Earlier the Trump administration had revoked this guidance and issued a proclamation arguing that these visas presented a risk to the US labour market during the economic recovery and asked each visa extension to be treated as a new application. This led to an increase in requests for additional documentation and outright denial of visa extensions on various grounds.
After coming into power, Biden promised to lift the suspension on H-1B visas and did not issue a fresh proclamation resulting in an automatic end to the ban. Indians have been the largest beneficiaries for H1B visa over the years. But over the past few years, there has been a significant drop in the share of Indian companies among the top 10 visa recipients according to the USCIS data.
Speciality occupation was considered as one of the prime reasons for the denial of the H-1B visa extension. Though the original H-1B visa had been issued owing to the job is a speciality occupation, USCIS took that stand. However, today USCIS gave a lowdown that saying that when there are material changes or new material information is available that undermines eligibility, the officers cannot defer to prior approval. In addition to this, it also stated that the policy will also not apply if there was a material error in the prior decision that led to granting of the visa.
Reverting to the prior policy is expected to decrease the number of extension request for verifications and reduce their processing time. The favourable policy change announcement follows US President Joe Biden’s Executive Order ‘Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans’. Several Trump-era immigration policies, including the suspension of employment-based nonimmigrant visas, have been revoked by the Biden administration.
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