Home / News / World /  Amid layoffs, online petition launched to extend H-1B visa grace period

Two Indian-American organizations have launched an online petition urging US President Joe Biden to extend the grace period of H-1B visa holders from two months a year, according to the news agency PTI. 

This came amid massive layoffs in the American tech sector that have resulted in a large number of Indian professionals being jobless. 

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

This means that once fired from a job, a foreign tech worker on H-1B visas would have one year to find a new job instead of the existing duration of 60 days, after which they have to leave the country.

“On behalf of immigrants (from the world, mainly from India and China) as well as naturalized citizens like Indian-Americans, Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies and Global Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO) has submitted an appeal to the President of the United States, the Secretary of DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and the director of USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) to extend the current grace period from 60 days to 1 year (minimum 6 months)," the online petition read. 

“We join the appeal and request to sympathetically consider the impact of the families on humanitarian grounds. We believe this extension will pause this brain drain and ensure that the US will continue to be a world leader in technology and innovation. We also request elected officials to support this extension and if needed introduce a bill in the House of Representatives," said the online petition that has been signed by more than 2,200 people so far.

Currently, laid-off H-1B holders have about 60 days to find another employer to file for the H-1B transfer or leave the country, the petition said, adding that it would be impossible for these people to get hired till the economy recovers. 

A Facebook group of overseas Indians has also launched a petition urging the Indian government to hire the laid-off Indian tech workers in the US, PTI reported.

More than 90,000 employees in the tech sector have been fired in just January 2023, according to LayoffTracker.com. This number may grow in the coming months, it added. 


(With PTI inputs)

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