Source: The Times of India | Mar 29, 2020
Original News Link: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/lay-offs-due-to-covid-leave-indian-h-1b-holders-in-a-fix/articleshow/74868481.cms?from=mdr
Hyderabad: With several companies in the United States starting to lay off employees, several H-1B visa holders now find themselves in a fix. Especially as new jobs are becoming increasingly tough to come by due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest drawbacks for H-1B holders is the 60-day grace period to find employment. Regulations stipulate that a H-1B holder without a job must find employment within the two-month period to stay in the US legally or else leave the country.
Indian H-1B holders say that it is close to impossible to find a job within the stipulated period given the current economic situation and have asked the US government for leniency. An online petition launched by Hyderabad-origin Dan Nandan, CEO of Hire IT People, seeks to extend the grace period from 60 to 180 days to give Indian H-1B holders more time to find new jobs. The petition (dated March 19, 2020) already has 17,243 supporters. The move comes with the next round of H-1B renewals starting in April.
Most H-1B holders spoke to STOI on condition of anonymity because they were between jobs or did not want families back home to worry. Their names have been changed. “I lost my job in February after working for a company for six years,” said Ajay, adding that hundreds of others had also been laid off from the same company, which he did not want named. “Even if the hiring situation improves in two months, the validity of my visa would have lapsed by then,” he said.
Ajay says the challenge is that if he does not find a job in time, he and his wife will have to leave the country. “My child is a US citizen and we will have to bring her back with us. This raises several questions: the first, how will we travel back when India has stopped international flights; second, what will happen to my daughter, for whom I have not applied for an OCI card.”