FIIDS urges USCIS to extend the H1B grace period to 180 days

iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-

 

Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) has urged the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to “urgently consider extending the H1B grace period to 180 days”.

Time is running out for over 250,000+ H1B professionals in the USA who have been laid off since Oct 2022. The number of H1B professionals who have lost their jobs is growing with companies like Meta announcing another set of layoffs.

A large number of these professionals are tax-paying H1B immigrants (estimated 100,000), particularly from India, who need to leave the US if they cannot find another employer filing for their H1b in 60 days. This has a humanitarian impact on them as their families, including their US-born children are uprooted abruptly, and those who got laid off in the earlier months are running out of time.

FIIDS also discussed this with tech executives, startup leaders, and venture capitalists, who supported this humanitarian need. The organization noted that these highly skilled laid-off STEM and tech professionals are important for maintaining the US competitive advantage in the world, especially in emerging technologies like, AI and cyber security. As Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo called out in their letter to USCIS, the departure of STEM professionals from the US is also a national security threat.

To create awareness about the predicament of laid-off H1B professionals, FIIDS has appealed to the President of the United States, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the director of USCIS to extend the grace period to 6 months to a year on humanitarian grounds as well as to stop a brain drain of this STEM professionals to retain the US competitive edge on emerging technologies against China.

As a part of awareness and policy engagement, the FIIDS launched a media campaign in Jan 2023 creating awareness about this issue in media in both India and the US. In February 2023, FIIDS launched a change petition that received 2600 sign-ups in a week and also reached out to elected representatives, many of them Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Shri Thanedar, and Raja Krishnamurthy are also supportive of the extension.

FIIDS discussed the impact with various organizations and also received support from the US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), the US India Business Council (USIBC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) South California, and the American Association on Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPIO).

“FIIDS thanks the Senate majority leader Senator Chuck Schumer that this issue can be fixed by an administrative process in his discussion with Indian American leaders on a recent call on March 13th. FIIDS applaud the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) for the discussion and support for this extension in their meeting on March 14. Even though the USCIS is positively considering the extension, it is yet to be done and the time is running out for the tech professionals. FIIDS appeals to the USCIS, and DHS to consider a request to expedite the extension of the grace period. FIIDS also appeals to elected officials, tech executives, and community leaders to emphasize the need and urgency to increase the grace period,” said a statement issued by Khanderao Kand on behalf of FIIDS.

 

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