H-1B visa extension rules under AC21 will not change, according to recent USCIS statement

In late December, it was reported that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was considering new regulations that would prevent H-1B visa extensions currently allowed for H-1B workers with pending green card applications. The news report caused quite a stir, considering that such a measure could cause hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to lose their H-1B visas and leave the U.S. even though they were waiting on green card approvals. Under current law (section 104(c) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), H-1B visas can be extended beyond the usual six-year limit if the foreign worker has a green card application in the works and has reached certain milestones in the application process.

In a recent news update, the McClatchy DC news service now reports that the USCIS has stated that it not considering such a change to the H-1B extension rules. Specifically, USCIS stated to McClatchy DC that the agency is not planning to change its interpretation of AC21, noting that “such a change would not likely result in these H-1B holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead.”

USCIS went on to indicate that it is “considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programs a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President’s Buy American, Hire American.”

Of course, we will continue to closely monitor this and other proposed policy and regulatory changes to the employment-based immigration system.

This information is provided as an educational service. If you need information about complex immigration rules that affect your ability to work in the U.S. you are invited to contact me for an immigration examination.