US H1B Visas and F1-OPT Under Attack by US Administration
A secure, permanent future in the United States is becoming increasingly less likely for hundreds of thousands of highly skilled foreign technology workers in the United States. Recent measures by the Trump administration may affect your ability to stay in the US and attain the American Dream.
Are you a H1B visa or F1-OPT visa holder and recently terminated?
The COVID-19/Coronavirus lockdowns are having a dramatic impact on H1B and F1 visa holders completing their Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. If you are a H1B visa holder and were recently laid-off or furloughed, you should know that temporary lay-offs/furloughs are generally not allowed under the H1B visa program. Instead, a lay-off is treated as a termination of employment. This means that H1B visa holders must depart the US or find a new position of similar employment within 60 days.
If you were recently terminated, you must act quick to comply with the termination rules.
Complicating matters is that airlines have cancelled many flights out of the United States. A massive evacuation effort of tens of thousands of affected H1B workers is underway. But with limited flights being made available, and with OCI holders unable to renew their status cards being excluded, thousands may find themselves stranded and out of status in the US.
Failure to leave the US during the mandatory 60-day departure period could result in negative immigration consequences in the future.
Canada continues to welcome top technology talent
In February 2020, Service Canada made it easier for employers to apply for Labour Market Impact Assessments by introducing an electronic filing pilot program. Then, despite lock-downs all around the world, Canada announced that it would continue to welcome top foreign technology workers into the country. This means that, despite social distancing, your application for a Global Talent work visa can be filed online and will continue to be processed.
Further, Canada continues to invite top foreign talent to apply for immigration under the Express Entry system throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns. Between March 4 and April 30, 2020, Canada invited 19,500 Express Entry candidates, plus their family members, to immigrate to Canada.
Meanwhile, the United States becomes a less welcoming for new immigrants
In contrast to Canada’s continued openness to top foreign technology workers, in April 2020, the Trump administration announced a halt to certain permanent immigration applications, putting thousands of Green Card applications on hold and the future of many immigrants at risk. H1B visa holders were barely spared, this time. But many fear that Indian H1B visa holders will be the next target of immigration application suspensions.
Laid-off foreign technology workers already in Canada given a break
The contrast is even starker when comparing the fate of Indian temporary foreign technology workers in the US to those already in Canada. Instead of mandating departure, the Canadian government announced temporary measures to help technology workers already in Canada on work permits more easily secure new employment. According to the recent policy, Foreign workers who have valid temporary status and work authorizations in Canada may be able to apply for new work permits with a job offer and start working for their new employers before their applications are approved.
Coming to Canada can fulfill the American Dream and jump start your return to the United States
Moving to Canada does not mean giving up the American Dream. Canada offers a high quality of life and a strong and stable economy. Canada offers universal, free healthcare to temporary work permit holders with job offers and their family members, in addition to being offered to permanent residents and Canadian citizens. Canada’s business and social cultures are similar to those of the United States. Canada is a diverse country that is welcoming of new immigrants. In fact, year-after-year, Canada welcomes Indians and technology workers as permanent residents more than any other nationality and occupations through the Express Entry system.
As an added bonus, obtaining Canadian citizenship gets you access to preferential US temporary TN NAFTA work authorizations to return to the US to work, and a fast-track through EB-2 or EB-3 Green Card processing since Canadians do not make the backlog list.
Contact us to jump start your permanent life in North America
Mandelbaum Immigration Lawyers can assist you with you with your Global Skills or Global Talent work permit application, and with your Express Entry permanent residency. Simply fill out our contact form, send us an e-mail, or call us during our office hours.