India requests US to extend H1-B visas for stranded Indians amid COVID-19 crisis

Written By: Sidhant Sibal WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Apr 10, 2020, 06:48 PM(IST)

Image for representation. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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With fears of the US economy heading for a big slump, H1-B holders could not only lose their job but won't be entitled to any unemployment benefits

India has requested the US government to extend the validity of H1-B and other visas for Indians stranded in the country due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

With fears of the US economy heading for a big slump, H1-B holders could not only lose their job but won't be entitled to any unemployment benefits also.

The matter was taken by foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan sharing with US deputy secretary of state Stephen E. Biegun on Wednesday.  Sources have told WION that India is "closely monitoring related developments."

During the talks between FS and US deputy secretary of state, both discussed ways to enhance cooperation to counter and control the pandemic including "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/information", say sources.

If the employer terminates the contract of an H1-B holder employee, the employee needs to find new employment within 60 days to retain their H1-B status. However, there has been no order as such from the US government asking employers to terminate the services of H1-B visa holders.

With fears of unemployment in the US, news has been going around that Indians with H1-B visa might be impacted. 

Almost 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment allowance which has been the larger trend and not specific to Indians. Also due to lockdown renewal is delayed and with US economy contracting people may be retrenched. Indians constitute the maximum percentage of H1-B visa holders in the US. 

US and India have been engaging in high-level engagement since the COVID-19 pandemic broke. PM Modi and US President Donald Trump spoke on April 4 and EAM Jaishankar had spoken with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo April 6.

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