Hyderabad: Given the prevailing circumstances in the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a major challenge that several H-1B visa holders are facing is adhering to existing H-1B application terms. Several H-1B visa holders qualify for the teleworking (work-from-home) in light of Coronavirus spread. But this comes with a new challenge to existing H-1B application terms which involves additional legal and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fees. However, there is some favourable news. The H-1B visa holders can expect ‘very reasonable consideration’ for teleworking in the view of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Department of Homeland Security senior official on Wednesday said “I am very familiar with the USCIS work as I earlier worked there. I think you can expect to have a very reasonable consideration from USCIS in all of these sorts of circumstances that are only caused by the Coronavirus.”
Present regulations mandates for filing an amendment if an H-1B visa holder wants to opt for teleworking instead of working from a location that was mentioned in the H-1B petition. Filing an amendment would cost $460 besides other legal fees. Upon filing, an H-1B visa holder can telework.
“We do – we are supporting, across the department, steps for safer working environments in light of the coronavirus, so I would be expecting to see that extended to the terms and conditions enforced with respect to H-1B visas,” Senior official said.
This apart, travellers who are on a short-term non-immigrant visa and could not leave the US because of flights cancellation due to COVID-19 can seek visa extension from the USCIS.
As there are travel restrictions across the world to contain the spread of Coronavirus, the USCIS intends to favourably receive the applications.
Senior official said the USCIS would take a ‘very appropriate’ view of the circumstances in deciding the applications.
“Visas, for instance, where an extension is being requested today and you are going to a country, where the flights have been taken down, can readily be expected to be favourably received by the USCIS, whereas two months ago that would not have been the case. If flights are available and your visa’s coming to an end, you would have been expected to get on one of those flights and return home,” official added.
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