The grace period for H-1B visa holders may soon be tripled—from 60 days to 180 days, according to Nikkei Asia.
What’s going on: Last week a commissioner on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders’ immigration subcommittee recommended lengthening the period during which non-U.S.-citizen visa holders can search for a new job after being laid off.
Why it’s important: Proponents of the longer grace period say 60 days is insufficient time either to find new employment—a condition of the visa—or to file “an application to switch to visitor status.”
- Currently, H-1B visa holders who have been laid off must “find a new job, file paperwork to change their sponsorship status and receive USCIS approval” all within two months. Complex applicant paperwork and backlogs at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services make this time frame unfeasible.
Why it’s important: The U.S.—and manufacturing in particular—has a worker shortage. In January, there were more than 800,000 unfilled job openings in the sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Recently passed legislation—including the historic, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the CHIPS and Science Act—will require workers with specialized skills and knowledge.
- The NAM has long supported the H-1B visa program as a means of supplying such employees.
In related news: Shortly after the suggestion, the State Department said it would also resume “domestic renewals in ‘certain petition-based nonimmigrant work visa categories,’ which include H and L visas.”
Our take: “Manufacturers fully support this recommendation,” said NAM Director of Human Resources Innovation Policy Julia Bogue.
- “Job openings in manufacturing are highly technical and workers require specialized skills training and credentials to qualify for many of them. We should work to retain H-1B visa holders as manufacturers need to attract a diverse set of workers with technical backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math.”