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US Announces Relief For H-1B Visa Holders, Green Card Applicants Amid Covid Outbreak

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday has given a grace period of 60 days to H-1B visa holders and Green Card applicants


The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday has given a grace period of 60 days to H-1B visa holders and Green Card applicants, who have been served notices for submission of various documents, in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

It said that 60-day grace period for responding to its requests will include requests for evidence; continuations to request evidence (N-14); notices of intent to deny; notices of intent to revoke; notices of intent to rescind and notices of intent to terminate regional investment centers; and filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.

According to the statement, the USCIS will consider a Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision before it takes any action. "USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking action. USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community and to minimise the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time," it said.

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The relaxations come in view of the coronavirus outbreak, which first surfaced in China's Wuhan city in December last. So far, the virus has claimed over 65,000 lives in the US and over 235,000 lives globally.

US to consider extension of H-1B visa

The United States on April 15 had said that it has taken steps to help address immigration-related challenges as the direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Indians, H-1B for IT professionals, B-1 and B-2 visas for business or travel purposes, and F-1 for students are some prominent non-immigrant visa. A USCIS spokesperson said that an individual needs to apply for visa extension and explain their circumstances under which they require an extension.

H-1B visa holders in the United States had started a petition to the White House to extend the grace period to 180 days from the existing 60 days in the wake of coronavirus crisis. H1-B visa allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

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60-day US Immigration Ban

US President Donald Trump on April 22, announced that he would be signing an executive order temporarily barring those seeking permanent residency green cards, for a period of 60 days. Calling it a 'pause to protect American workers and to 'conserve vital medical resources', Trump added that after 60 days the need for an extension or modification will be evaluated.

(with PTI inputs)

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