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H-1B visa: Indian workers file petition fearing layoffs due to coronavirus

Indian workers who are working on H-1B visas are fearing massive layoffs in the US due to the global pandemic. The H-1B visa holders are demanding the Trump government to extend their permissible stay in the United States post-unemployment from existing 60 days to 180 days.
Mar 31, 2020 12:50 IST
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H-1B visa holders
H-1B visa holders

Foreign technology professionals who are working on H-1B visas are fearing massive layoffs in the United States due to the coronavirus that is now a global pandemic. Many companies have informed that the people working on H-1B visas could be fired soon as they are on top of the list. The H-1B visa holders are demanding the Trump government to amend the rules and extend their permissible stay in the United States post-unemployment from existing 60 days to 180 days. 

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What is the H-1B visa?

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa through which technology companies hire thousands of employees every year from countries like India and China in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. According to the existing rules, the H-1B visa holders must leave the United States within 60 days post-unemployment along with their families. 

What does the petition state? 

Fearing the layoffs, H-1B employees have started a petition campaign on the official website of White House to extend their post-unemployment permissible stay. The petition states, “ We request the government to temporarily extend the 60 days grace period to 180 days and protect the H1B workers under these difficult times." 

The petition further states that many H-1B workers are from India and they won’t be able to travel along with their children (who are US citizens) due to the entry ban in the wake of the coronavirus cause. The petition has been so far signed by more than 20,000 people, but it requires a minimum of 100,000 signatures to get a response from White House. 

Experts fear massive layoffs

Due to slowdown in the American economy, many experts fear massive layoffs in various sectors. Approximately 3.3. Americans have filed unemployment claims as of March 21, 2020, and this will worsen in the coming weeks. 

As per the existing rules, the people who are working on H-1B visas in the United States, are not entitled to unemployment and social security benefits. However, the amount for these benefits is deducted from their salaries. 

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Coronavirus which was first identified in China has now turned a global pandemic and has infected 697,244 people so far claiming 33,257 lives. Currently, the United States is the most infected country in the world with 112,653 confirmed cases and 2,112 deaths so far.  

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