Hundreds of thousands of holders of work visas lost legal status in the United States: what’s next

Back in April we wrote about the fact that hundreds of thousands of foreign workers with H-1B visa, can lose its legal status by June. For many, the day has come, writes Bloomberg.

Сотни тысяч держателей рабочих виз потеряли легальный статус в США: что дальше

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H-1B visa is a temporary work permit, which is issued to persons with special skills, and in the vast majority of cases are people working in the field of technology. Visas are associated with a specific employer who is sponsoring them, and the owners of the H-1B is allowed to remain in the U.S. for 60 days without pay.

These rules raise the stakes for thousands of workers in H-1B who lost their seats in the wave of layoffs due Covid-19. Unlike the Americans, they are not entitled to unemployment benefits, despite paying taxes, and they do not have two months to search for a similar job to maintain legal status. This is a complex situation in a pandemic.

In the past few weeks, Bloomberg correspondent spoke with the owners of H-1B and immigration lawyers to try to determine what options are available for these workers. Conclusion: only the bad.

Some foreign workers prefer to return home permanently, it was not easy, since many borders are closed, flights are limited, and a farewell party is prohibited. More optimistic visa holders enrolled in colleges in the US to try to overcome the recession in the master’s program on a student visa. Others have gone on a tourist visa in the hope that the economy will recover in the next three months there will be new proposals. And some people get arranged marriages with American citizens or hired holders of H-1B (but even marriage does not guarantee the legal status as for the issue of certificates may take months, and the unions associated with the change in immigration status are often subject to state control).

Many of these workers had hoped that the trump will extend the 60-day grace period until at least September 10. TechNet, a lobby group representing most of the major technology companies, also insisted on the extension. Instead, the rigid position of the President of Donald trump’s immigration, it seems, has only intensified.

In April, the President suspended the issuance of new green cards for prospective permanent residents of the United States. It is now considering another order that can restrict entry into the U.S. for up to 180 days visa holder, including H-1B, and is considering suspension of the program optional practical training (OPT) which is typically used as a bridge for international students to sponsor H-1B visa.

If trump will go with this plan, no sector will suffer more technological. Each year, about three quarters of the 85,000 visas H-1B are sent to the people working in the field of technology. In 2018 Amazon.com Inc., Google Google Inc., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. among the five best employers of students in technical fields using the OPT program.

If the program OPT will be closed, technology will remain one of the major funnels for new talent. June 9, FWD.us, the enforcement unit of immigration, which is a co-founder, mark Zuckerberg, has published a blog post stating that the suspension of the OPT and restricting other channels of immigration will be a “significant mistake.”

Even in the face of a pandemic, when the technical companies are concerned about the safe opening of his offices, wrestling with a wave of misinformation associated with the virus, and conduct global protests against racial injustice, is able to draw attention to their own ambiguous data on racial diversity, immigration remains an important topic for their leaders, says the author.

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