COVID-19 crisis visa extension issue: US to extend stay depending on ground situation 

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 14, 2020, 07:51 AM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Others )

Story highlights

India last week had requested the US government to extend the validity of H-1B and other visas for Indian nationals stranded in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID crisis creates havoc in America, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will help Indians worried about visa issue and may extend their stay depending on the circumstances.  WION learnt that the body may provide special consideration or expedited processing for those who may need it on a case-by-case basis.

USCIS takes care of issues like visas, citizenship, work visas etc and is expected to provide special support for individuals who may be affected by circumstances beyond their control.

India last week had requested the US government to extend the validity of H-1B and other visas for Indian nationals stranded in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The request was conveyed from the US state department to the US Department of Homeland Security, under which USCIS comes.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services have taken steps to help immigration-related problems of individuals, employers which they facing due to the ongoing COVID crisis in the US. The body is currently analyzing issues and other possible steps the agency may take to further address some of these challenges and will consider the public’s recommendations. 

The matter was taken up by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan, who shared the concerns with US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun on Wednesday. 

During the talks between the Foreign Secretary and the US Deputy Secretary of State, both discussed ways to enhance cooperation to counter and control the pandemic, including measures "through the development of novel therapies and prophylactics against COVID-19 and ensuring the availability of essential medicines, diagnostic and medical equipment, and sharing of best practices and information", say sources.

If the employer terminates the contract of an H-1B holder, the employee needs to find new employment within 60 days to retain their H-1B status. But until now there has been no order as such from the US Government asking employers to terminate services of H-1B visa holders.

With fears of unemployment in the US, news has been going around that Indians with an H-1B visa might be impacted. Almost 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment allowance which has been the larger trend and not specific to Indians. In addition to this, visa renewal is being delayed due to the lockdown.

It is to be noted that Indians constitute the largest percentage of H-1B visa holders in the US. US and India have been having a high-level mutual engagement ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump spoke on April 4 regarding steps to counter the crisis arising out of the situation. Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar had also spoken with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 6.

Read in App