On May 1, the US government announced a grace period of 60 days for H-1B visa holders and Green Card applicants who have been served notices for submission of various documents, in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier, on March 30, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had first given a flexibility of 60 days for responding to requests or notices having issuance dates between March 1 and May 1, 2020.
As per the fresh notification from the agency, the grace period will become applicable to the documents if the issuance date listed on the request, notice or decision is between March 1 and July 1, 2020.
The new USCIS notification said the extension of flexibilities could be availed for responding to Requests for Evidence; Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14); Notices of Intent to Deny; Notices of Intent to Revoke; Notices of Intent to Rescind and Notices of Intent to Terminate regional investment centres; and Filing date requirements for Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
“USCIS will consider a response to the above requests and notices received within 60 calendar days after the response due date set in the request or notice before taking action. USCIS will consider a Form I-290B received up to 60 calendar days from the date of the decision before it takes any action,” the alert said.
“USCIS is adopting several measures to protect our workforce and community and to minimize the immigration consequences for those seeking immigration benefits during this time,” it added.
On April 13, the US Department of Homeland Security said it would allow non-immigrant visa holders, such as those on H-1B visa, to apply for an extension of their stay in the country. The decision came as a timely respite for thousands of Indian workers, students, and tourists who remain stranded in the US due to the novel coronavirus.
The April notification also had extended flexibility for late applications and had said the government could excuse the failure to file on time if caused due to extraordinary circumstances beyond control, such as those that may be caused by Covid-19.
Currently, the pandemic has affected the US more than any other country in the world, where over 65,000 people have died.
The USCIS can issue a maximum of 65,000 H-1B work visas every year to highly skilled foreign workers. It can issue an additional 20,000 H-1B visas to those highly skilled foreign workers who have obtained masters or higher degrees from an American educational institution.