On Dec. 30, 2017 McClatchy News reported that USCIS was considering an interpretation of a provision in the American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act that would restrict H-1B visas from extensions beyond six years. This story provoked a fire storm of panic among Indian H-1B visa holders who have been waiting for an available immigrant visa while caught in backlogs often in excess of 10 years and longer. While many lawyers cautioned that the statute could only be interpreted to withhold three year extensions but not one year extensions (creating only a more pronounced processing backlog but not substantively impacting the right to remain and work in the United States), various other sources argued that the Administration could indeed eliminate a statutory provision provided by Congress.
Today, McClatchy News reported that that the Administration is not considering such an interpretation. The article notes that the Administration is backing away from the proposal in light of the extreme pressure. But, according to the USCIS spokesman: “USCIS was never considering such a policy change and that ‘any suggestion that USCIS changed its position because of pressure is absolutely false.’ ”
The story published this morning eliminates the fear that the Administration will move to end the H-1B eligibility for tens of thousands of immigrants waiting for a green card. The Administration has announced that the Buy American Hire American Executive Order issued on April 18, 2017 provides a mandate to scale back the program. USCIS is examining H-1B regulations and policies, and we anticipate further announcements that will likely restrict the H-1B program in additional ways. We will have a better idea of the parameters being considered when the proposed new regulations are published.