Petition Filed for Extending the H-1B Grace Period to 180 Days

Who would have thought that in this day and age, where we are equipped with modern technology and have the ability to seek solutions from people around the world, a global pandemic could occur?

In this stressful time of COVID-19 affecting the health of individuals in various parts of the planet, saving lives should be the first priority of every government and non-government organization. But, at the same time, we cannot forget that financial resources are important for medical treatment and sustenance.

The coronavirus disease has caused the economy to shatter as lockdown has been imposed in many countries. Businesses, especially in the hospitality and tourism industries, have shut down the operations leading to employee layoffs. The United States of America (USA) has been hit hard by COVID-19. As you might be aware, this country attracts a large number of foreigners every year.

Students, professionals, and entrepreneurs from all over the world visit the USA for pursuing education, employment, and business. Even self-employed people and people engaged in art and craft fields stay in the USA for short-term or long-term to accomplish their goals. The applicable visa category varies from purpose to purpose. Amongst the various visa categories, an H1-B visa is highly sought after.

What is H1-B Visa?

An H1-B visa is sanctioned to people who are based in foreign countries and want to work for employers in the USA. F1 student visa holders and H4 dependent visa holders can also get an H1-B visa. The H1-B visa has a validity of three years which can be extended for three more years. So, an H1-B visa holder can stay up to six years in the USA. Employers sponsor an H1-B visa for prospective employees by filing a petition with USCIS.

Unemployment Rules for H1-B Visa

H1-B visa holders are allowed a maximum period of sixty days in three years for remaining unemployed in the country. So, any foreign worker who wishes to change their job needs to keep this in mind. H1-B visa holders can switch employers, but every employer has to file a separate petition for their visa. If an H1-B visa holder loses their job due to any reason, they have to find a new job within this 60-Day grace period.

Implications of COVID-19 on Unemployment

By using different software and platforms, several companies have put systems in place for enabling their staff to work from home. But companies who are not able to do so had to resort to employee layoffs. In this situation, foreign workers holding an H1-B visa might have to remain unemployed for more than 60 days. Moreover, most of the H1-B visa holders cannot return to their home country due to restrictions placed on international travel.

Therefore, a petition has been filed by H1-B visa holders for requesting the US government to extend the grace period from 60 days to 180 days and protect them under these difficult times.