Trump’s June 22 order of temporarily suspending various categories of visas for immigrants did little to hurt the foreign students. However, a new order has now asked students to leave the US if their school or university is conducting online classes in fall 2020.
According to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s order announced on July 6, only those students will be allowed to stay in the country whose university is taking in-person classes or a mix of online and in-person.
The agency has also made it clear that no new visas will be issued now and the students with existing stamped visas will not be allowed to enter the country. ET Online decodes some of the most pressing queries playing on Indian minds.
What if you have anH-1B visabut no job?
One of the biggest drawbacks of the H-1B visa is that a visa holder’s lawful status in the US is based solely on employment. H-1B recipients cannot stay unpaid for more than 60 days.
H-1B visa holders who are out of work for up to 60 days (or until your status expires if it’s sooner than 60 days) have to either find another employer to sponsor them or apply for a change in visa status.
For those who manage to find a job, the new employer can file a petition and they can actually start working even before approval is obtained.
In case the H-1B visa holder fails to get employed, they have an option to apply for a “change of status” to F-1, L-1 or H-4, based on what they qualify for.
These actions are necessary because ‘unlawful presence’ in the US can invite a ban for 3 to 10 years, depending upon the overstay.
What if my visa status is about to expire?
The US President’s move to impose visa restrictions would not hurt those who may be employed but whose visa status is about to expire.
So, for those who find themselves in this situation, it’s crucial that their employer files an extension petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the status expires.
In case an H-1B visa holder is past the 60-day grace period, they can apply for a nunc pro tunc decision (retroactively to correct an earlier ruling) with the USCIS through their attorney or employer.
The USCIS holds discretionary powers. Considering the coronavirus pandemic as ‘exceptional circumstances’, the immigration agency may grant an approval with an extension, allowing the visa holder to stay in the country.
What about those married to H-1B holders, or those with H-4?
Spouses and children (other than US citizens) of H-1B visa holders would also be hit hard by Trump’s proclamation.
According to the order, if an H-1b visa holder hasn’t received the approval then the spouse will not either.
Spouses of the H1-B visa holders whose visas expired and weren’t renewed before June 23, will now have to wait until the next year. The same applies to those whose visas are not stamped.
However, those who have a valid H-4 but are currently out of the US, will be able to return without any difficulty.
The new order also doesn’t affect those H-4 holders who have applied for H-4 Employment Authorization Documents. While it is still a point of contention and the DHS has recently proposed to disallow dependents to apply for employment authorization, there does not seem to be any hiccups for the time being.
What if you are in India to get your visa stamped?
Trump’s proclamation is also likely to hurt those who were in their home country for the renewal of their visas.
H-1B visa holders and their spouses who do not have their visa stamped, will now have to wait for 6 mo