Yes, H1B Visa status is undergoing changes at a faster pace. For many Indians, the United States still represents the dream life. However, moving and living in the US is not easy. One of the most common visas Indians apply for is the H1B visa. This visa allows an individual to live and work in the US. They can also bring their families along with them and apply for a Green Card while on this visa.
Under the current system, luck plays a large role in getting a green card. This is because a lottery system determines who gets to stay in the US and who doesn’t. But, all of this may soon change.
Most Indian students and professionals move to the US on an H1B visa. This is also known as a Dual Intent visa as an individual can apply for a Green Card while on this visa. This visa is typically issued for a period of three years after which it may be extended once for another three years. To qualify for this visa, an individual must have a minimum of 12 points where each year of college/ university education accounts for 3 points and each year of work experience is equivalent to 1 point.
H1B Visa Status – Diversity Immigrant Visa Programme
Under the current system, up to 50,000 immigrants are awarded a green card each year. This allows them to stay in the US permanently and puts them on the path to citizenship. The home country of an applicant plays a large role in this process. Diversity visas can be issued only to applicants from countries that have had less than 50,000 people move to the US in the previous 5 years.
No more than 7 % of the diversity visas may be issued to applicants from one country. Given a large number of Indians applying for a green card each year, many do not get a Green Card only because the country’s quota has been reached. Not only is this frustrating for workers wanting their Green Cards, it also keeps the US from getting talented and skilled workers. The expected changes in the status co might be a good news for Indians.
H1B Visa Status – Proposals for Change
A bill has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators Jeff Flake and Orrin Hatch. The bill seeks to increase the number of the visas being issued annually. While efforts are being made to make immigration laws stricter in order to prevent their misuse, this bill aims at welcoming talented and skilled people from across the world. If certain requirements are met, an additional 1,10,000 visas may be issued in a year.
The bill also establishes a grace period wherein such visa holders can switch jobs and authorizes the visa holder’s spouse and dependent children to work in the US. The bill is being supported by a number of top IT companies based in the USA including Facebook and Microsoft as well as the Information Technology Industry Council and the US Chambers of Commerce.
Prioritizing Green Cards
President Trump has also proposed ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa Programme. This will benefit both the US and a number of Indians waiting for their Green Cards. One of the main reasons for this is because Indians are currently ineligible for the diversity visa along with immigrants from 17 others countries who have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the past 5 years.
The new Act which may replace the Diversity Immigrant Visa Programme aims at prioritizing Green Cards to people who can speak English and have job skills that could benefit the US. Applicants who can support themselves financially may also find themselves having an advantage over others.
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