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Rumored Changes to H-1B Extensions May Have Been Premature

Over the last couple of weeks reports have been published indicating that the Trump Administration was preparing to eliminate the current law of availability of H-1B extensions beyond the H-1B six-year limit for individuals whose cases for permanent residence are pending. A widely quoted McClatchy report in late December noted that the AC-21 Act has been a lifeline for Indian nationals working in the tech world who are awaiting completion of employment-based cases that have been mired in long backlogs. The AC-21 H-1B extension beyond the six-year limit is provided as part of the legislation.

President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order of Buy American, Hire Americans seems contrary to allowing workers in the technology field to remain in the U.S. legally while awaiting permanent residence.

On Jan. 10, the website TechCrunch reported that the Trump Administration appears to be distancing itself from the rumors. The website noted, “The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is offering assurances that no such policy change is underway.” 

TechCrunch wrote that it received a statement from USCIS chief of media relations Jonathan Withington that said the agency is examining policy changes in line with the President’s Executive Order, but the H-1B extension is “not on the chopping block.”

The statement included: “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.”

The National Law Review reported that the Department of Homeland Security has not issued proposed regulations or made announcements regarding AC-21. The publication noted that proposed changes “would likely garner numerous legal challenges by the immigration bar and STEM industry groups.”

The National Law Review reminded readers that only Congress can enact laws. 

It is important to let your Congressmen and Senators know your support to continuing H-1B extensions as they currently exist.

We will continue to follow this story.