Update Mar 27, 2020: The Trump will sign the Senate version of the Stimulus bill at 4 PM today.
The CARES Act will help the US economy in Coronavirus recession but does NOT contain any help or automatic extension for visa holders.
H1B and L visa workers are considered resident aliens who pay taxes and may receive the payment check as part of the Senate’s Stimulus bill 2020.
As I shared earlier, the chances were extremely low for H1B and L visa workers to get an automatic extension in any recession bill.
The house bill had the option of extension for visa holders but it has not passed.
This article will discuss:
ImmigrationVoice Pushing For Legal Visa Extensions in Stimulus Bill
Immigration voice reported that the house stimulus bill has added the 1-year extension for all legal visa holders. They are working on lobbying to ask Senate to include a clause in the upcoming Stimulus bill (for fighting Coronavirus) to help H1B and H4 EAD workers.
Here is the text from House Stimulus bill 2020 that Immigration Voice has been talking about:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, with respect to any alien whose nonimmigrant status, status under section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1254a), or employment authorization has expired within the 30 days preceding the date of the enactment of this act, or will expire not later than one year. After such date, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall automatically extend such status or work authorization for the same time period as the alien’s prior status or work authorization.House Stimulus Bill 2020
House bill does indicate the provision of automatic extension of all H1b, H4 EAD, L, L2 EAD and another legal status by 1 year automatically.
The minor details of the clause are not available at this time and there is no surety that it will be approved either. The bill needs to pass both the house and Senate before it can be implemented.
Chances of H1B, H4 EAD Automatic Extensions
In my opinion, the chances are low for the automatic H1B extensions to be granted to every lawful status person in the USA in Coronavirus emergency.
Legal workers have high hopes from the bill as 1 in 6 healthcare workers is an immigrant as per statistics. Coronavirus is not a normal recession as it needs doctors, physicians, and other healthcare workers. US cannot afford to let H1B or L visa status expire for doctors.
The odds of this bill favoring non-American workers in the election year certainly cannot be good. It may very well make the difference between winning or losing the presidential election.
Also, if we look at the Stimulus bill of 2009, the H1B visas received a backlash rather than a favor. Read below to know more.
Immigration voice is trying to save all H1B employees who get furloughed due to COVID-19 job losses. The task is tough but there is no harm in trying.
If the automatic extension clause does make it to the final law deal, it will help all lawful visa holders currently in the USA.
Stimulus Bill 2020
The stimulus bill is currently in the negotiation phase between Democrats and Republic to help the US economy fight Coronavirus effects.
The bill is moving forward fast as the Trump government is looking to pass and implement the bill as early as the week of Mar 23.
As per the Washington Post report, it is possible that House Democrats pass their own bill and the Senators go ahead with their own version. In this case, the final bill will need mid-way path negotiations again.
The stimulus bill normally adds extra restrictions on H1B hiring to promote jobs in the USA. So, it is a good idea to keep your expectations low for legal non-immigrants from this bill.
H1B Restrictions Increased in Stimulus Bill 2009
The Stimulus bill 2009 had added restrictions over companies that hired H1B employees.
Under the new requirements back in 2009, US H1B employers who receive government funding had to meet requirements normally reserved for H1B-dependent employers.
Additional requirements added were:
- Taking good-faith steps to recruit U.S. workers for the position in question
- Offering the job to any U.S. workers who apply and qualify
- Not displacing any U.S. worker from a job that would be considered an equivalent of the job offered to the H1B worker within 90 days prior to the filing of the H1B petition and within 90 days after its filing.
Senators Sanders and Grassley had added a clause to limit banks from hiring H-1B workers unless they had offered positions to equally- or better-qualified US workers, and to prevent banks from hiring H-1B workers in occupations in which they had laid off US workers, as per reports by visa lawyer blog in 2009.
Attorneys Request Automatic Extension
USCIS has closed various public-facing offices but are open and doing the back end processing for H1B, H4, L and F applications.
USCIS i485 personal interviews for a green card and biometric processing is stopped at this time.
The processing time is expected to increase drastically for H1B as USCIS suspended premium processing for all H1B and i140 applications earlier this week.
Immigration Voice and other attorneys have requested USCIS and DHS to give at-least 180 days of automatic extensions but government agencies have maintained a stark silence till today.
Source: Immigration Voice Facebook Page