USCIS Not Considering Change in H-1B Visa Rules

President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” initiative aims to prevent the extension of H-1B visas, largely used by Indian IT professionals. The move could directly stop hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from keeping their H-1B visas while their green card applications are pending, which would trigger “self-deportation” of those affected by the potential policy change.

Fortunately for current H-1B visa holders, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) have clarified they are not considering a regulatory change that would compel H-1B visa holders to leave the country after the six-year limit. The US Chamber of Commerce warned it would be “tremendously bad policy” to notify highly skilled individuals they cannot stay any longer in the country.

However, they left open the possibility of rule changes that would allow visa holders, who are having their green card processed to remain in the U.S. for only one year at a time—as opposed to the current three-year extensions. Even migrating the entire process from the current three-year extension to a year-to-year renewal will result in additional costs and paperwork. Currently, H-1B holders who have started the green card process can typically renew their work visas indefinitely.

As far as H-1B visa hopefuls are concerned, U.S. visa laws have become stringent since Trump became president on January 2017. The premium processing for H-1B processing for H-1B visas is being impeded and becoming tougher.

For instance, there has been a spike in “requests for evidence” (RFEs), which are notices USCIS sends—as a routine part of the visa process—to H-1B applicants requesting additional information for the purpose of only granting visas to those who meet the criteria. RFEs make the process longer and more costly. According to USCIS data from last January to November, the department issued around 40% more RFEs than in all of 2016, and 65% more than in all of 2015.

H-1B hopefuls should keep an eye out for approval rates as well. USCIS approved more than 90% of the H-1B applications it processed in fiscal 2017; however, that rate reduced below 85% in the first two months of fiscal 2018.

If you need help applying for an H-1B visa or a green card in Arizona, our Phoenix immigration attorney at Kanu & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to helping you achieve your career and personal goals. With more than 15 years legal experience, we have a thorough understanding of U.S. immigration laws to guide through the intricacies of the visa process and maximize your chances of approval.

Contact us or schedule a consultation today for more information.

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