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US lawmakers push for extension of H1-B grace period

In a letter they underlined significance of immigrants in knowledge-based economy and that forcing them to leave is harmful to country's long-term economic competitiveness.

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A group of lawmakers from Silicon Valley have raised concerns over the ongoing wave of tech sector layoffs and urged the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the 60-day grace period for laid-off H-1B holders to secure a new job before losing their visa status.

In a joint letter to the USCIS' director, Ur M. Jaddou, Representatives Anna G. Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, Ro Khanna, Jimmy Panetta, and Kevin Mullin enquired about the agency’s efforts in retaining high-skilled immigrants in the U.S. after losing their jobs, and their employment-based visas.

Highlighting the 60-day grace period after which the H-1B visa status of a laid off employee gets invalid, the lawmakers said in the letter, “forcing them to leave the U.S. is harmful to our nation’s long-term economic competitiveness." They argued that extending the grace period will strengthen the country’s ability to retain immigrant talent in the future.

Moreover, the lawmakers sought a response from USCIS on certain issues including number of H-1B visa holders who have successfully maintained legal status after losing their jobs and how many have departed the country or accrued unlawful presence; approval and denial rates on requests made by newly unemployed H-1B visa holders to change their visa status into visitor visa; time consumed to process such requests and penalty for applying for B-1/B-2 visitor visas by newly unemployed H-1B visa holders. They demanded a response by May 5, 2023.