A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Contact: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/

Monday, May 11, 2020

File your H-1B Extensions Now

Foreign workers who are currently in a non-immigrant visa status are advised to file their extension applications as soon as possible based on Trump Administration's recent policy direction in immigration.

President Trump has not been subtle about his intention to restrict immigration ever since he took office three and a half years ago.  Through a serious of executive actions and policy changes, the administration has effectively reduced both legal and illegal immigration into the US.

In a recent letter sent to President Trump, four Republic Senators urge President Trump to suspend employment-based immigration into the US as follows:

- Suspend all new guest worker visas (H-2B) for 60 days, and follow by suspension of non-essential guest workers for at least one year.
- Suspend H-1B and other non-immigrant visas for at least one year, except certain healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses.
- Suspend the F-1 students Optional Practical Training (OPT) program indefinitely.
- Suspend the EB-5 investment visa program.

According to these Senators, suspension of these visa programs is important to address the current historically-high unemployment rates of the US.  The EB-5 program, according to the Senators, has long been "plagued by scandal and fraud."

Importantly, the letter states that - "at a minimum" - these programs should be suspended, implying that other non-immigrant visa programs such as L-1A, L-1B, TN, R, O, etc., should also be included for suspension as well.

In his recent "Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak," President Trump already ordered the suspension of legal immigration from overseas countries for 60 days starting 04/23/2020.  Further extension is possible.

The same order specifically directed the Secretaries of DOL, DOS and DHS to review all non-immigrant visa programs within 30 days.  It shows that the Trump Administration was already planning to make policy changes regarding the non-immigrant visa programs.  After review, it is very possible that the White House will issue additional executive orders to restrict non-immigrant visa applications such as H-1B, L-1, etc.

Hence, it is strongly recommended that foreign students and workers should submit their applications immediately before any policy changes take effect.  This includes the H-1B CAP cases for Fiscal Year 2021, H-1B extension petitions, change-of-employment petitions, change-of-status petitions, OPT and STEM OPT applications.  In the past month, our firm has been working extra-hard to help our clients to submit their non-immigration applications to ensure that they can remain to work legally in the US. 

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