The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been under intense pressure from business and technology communities over the past week when they announced potential policy changes that would curtail the ability of H-1B visa holders with an approved I-140 to extend their status in the United States while awaiting a green card. Currently, under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) Section 104(c), DHS may grant an extension of H-1B status to an individual who is the beneficiary of a Form I-140 immigrant petition but who is unable to adjust status due to per-country limits. Since AC21 was signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, DHS has always approved H-1B extensions in this situation where a beneficiary is otherwise eligible for H-1B status. This policy was codified in a final rule published by the Obama Administration in January 2017.
McClatchy reports today that while US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the immigration benefits and services arm of DHS, is still conducting a thorough review of worker visa programs, as directed by President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, the agency has softened its rhetoric on the announcement last week indicating changes to AC-21 H-1B extensions. Members of Congress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Indian Technology Industry lobbying groups have all pushed back against the Administration arguing that these policy changes would be harmful to the American economy, credibility, and relations with India. The Administration has affirmed that they will continue to review the H-1B program and will likely continue to push changes to the program through adjudications at USCIS. However, at this time, there are no concrete plans to make changes to the regulations surrounding H-1B extensions.
TS Immigration will continue to keep our clients updated on any changes to this program. If you have individual questions about how this will impact your business, please contact your TS attorney.