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US says no change in H-1B extension policy brings relief for Indian techies

In a relief for Indian techies, US authorities today said that the Trump administration is not considering any proposal that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the country. The announcement by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) came days after reports emerged that the Trump administration was considering tightening H-1B visa rules that could lead to deportation of 7,50,000 Indians. The reports had said it was mulling ending extensions for H-1B holders.

The USCIS “is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing interpretation of Section 104 C of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) statute that states that USCIS may grant the extensions,” an official said. This provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.

“Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year Mincrements under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead,” Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations at the USCIS, said in a statement.

“The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programmes,” Withington said. The statement comes after last week’s news report by US- based news agency McClatchy DC Bureau according to which the US was considering new regulations to prevent the extension of H-1B visas, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals.

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