H-1B visa extensions for workers waiting on green cards are safe for now

The Trump administration appears to be creating distance between itself and rumors that it might end the practice of extending H-1B visas during the green card application process. The rumored change would have a large impact on foreign tech workers in the U.S., but the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is offering assurances that no such policy change is underway.

In a statement to TechCrunch, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Chief of Media Relations Jonathan Withington noted that the agency is examining other potential policy changes in light of the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which the president signed last April. That includes “a thorough review of employment based visa programs,” though USCIS explained that the H1-B extension policy was not on the chopping block.

USCIS clarified its stance in a statement to TechCrunch:

“We are not at liberty to discuss any part of the pre-decisional processes; however, all proposed rules publish in the federal register and USCIS posts all policy memoranda on our website…

“What we can say, however, is that USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which 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 increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead.”

McClatchy reports that this reassurance comes after the business community sharply rebuked the potential policy change, though USCIS denies that claim.

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