Jeremy Neufeld, an immigration policy analyst with the Washington D.C.-based think tank Niskanen Center, has predicted that around 2,50,000 workers currently staying in the United States on H-1B visas could lose their legal right to be in the country by the end of June. As per Jeremy, who spoke to Bloomberg, nearly 2,00,000 of them have applied for a green-card to seek resident status in the United States. The H-1B visas are given to workers with specialised skills and the beneficiaries of the program are mostly from India and China. H-1B recipients can only remain in the country legally for 60 days without being paid.
Many H-1B visa holders have lost their jobs or have been sent on unpaid leaves due to the growing uncertainty over the coronavirus lockdown that has literally halted the US economy. So far, over 16 lakh people in the United States have applied for the government's unemployment program, which way higher than the great depression period. The situation has impacted many H-1B recipients who are in the country providing specialised services in different sectors, including healthcare. Some of the workers have also taken loans, which they fear they won't be able to pay with their average salaries in India if they are forced to return.
According to reports, many companies have laid off employees, including H-1B workers, who now have 60 days to find another job or lose their legal right to stay in the United States. The laying off of employees is a violation of the H-1B visa program that requires employers to pay a minimum salary and do not permit them to furlough recipients. Some workers who have not lost their jobs are facing the dilemma of renewing their visas amid disruptions caused COVID-19 outbreak. US President Donald Trump on April 22 signed a proclamation 'suspending entry of immigrants who present a risk to the US labor market during the COVID-19 pandemic'. However, experts suggest that the policy won't impact H-1B visa holders as it targets those living outside of the country seeking green cards.
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