Applying for a visa stamp at a US Consulate or Embassy abroad for activation of H-1B status could soon be a thing of the past after a presidential commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders unanimously approved a recommendation for the provision of stamping of H-1B visas inside the US.
If accepted by US President Joe Biden, the move will come as a big relief to tens of thousands of foreign professionals, particularly from India.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. American technology companies heavily depend on H-1B visa to hire thousands of employees every year from countries like India and China.
The recommendation was approved during a meeting of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander at the White House on Wednesday. The Commission met to discuss full and draft recommendations by the six subcommittees on ways to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
A recommendation was made by Indian American Ajay Jain Bhutoria, a member of the commission.
"As part of our immigration process, H-1B visa holders are given the opportunity to work in the United States and contribute to the growth of our economy, innovation and economic development," Bhutoria told members of the commission during the meeting, which was telecast live by the White House.
He highlighted the problems faced by H-1B visa holders, including forced family separation during the renewal or when they travel overseas.
"There are situations where a lot of people, whose parents have been in ICU or in critical condition or their death of a parent, but they could not travel back to the home country with the fear that if there is often delay in the visa appointments in the home countries," he said.
"In India right now the waiting period is 844 days to get a visa appointment which is like two years or more. There's a similar situation in Pakistan, Bangladesh and many other countries. China is much better right now. So, they cannot get an appointment and they cannot get stamping done and they get stuck," said Bhaturia.
"What happens then, they potentially lose the job. Wife and kids are here separated and with no means to support themselves or many times spouses don't drive. A lot of these kinds of situations create a disruption in their life while they were given the full opportunity to work here legally," he argued.
The recommendation says that the US Citizenship and Immigration Commission should update its policy to provide guidelines to permit the extension of and stamping of visas in the US.