USCIS has reportedly reneged on a proposed “Buy American, Hire American” regulation that would have prevented H-1B visa extensions beyond the six-year limit and likely stopped more than 100,000 foreign workers with pending green card applications from keeping their H-1B visas beyond the allowed two three-year terms, creating job opportunities for higher-skilled Americans.
“The agency 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,” USCIS Chief of Media Relations, Jonathan Withington said Monday. “What we can say, however, is that USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H-1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H-1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit.
“Even if it were, such a change would not likely result in these H-1B visa holders having to leave the United States because employers could request extensions in one-year increments under section 106(a)-(b) of AC21 instead.”
The Trump administration was met with backlash from politicians and tech companies after reports over New Year’s weekend that it was reviewing the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, which currently allows for the granting of extensions to H-1B visas holders, in order to determine whether or not the language of the provision can be reinterpreted to stop making the extensions.
The National Association of Software and Services Companies, Immigration Voice and Compete America reacted to the announcement by commissioning their lobbyists and members to protest the proposal in an attempt to keep foreign workers instead of hiring Americans.
Additionally, Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-Kans.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) responded to the administration’s reviewing of the act in a letter expressing their disapproval. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also opposed the proposed legislation, saying that it would be “tremendously bad policy,” to prevent H-1B visa extensions beyond the six-year limit.
USCIS denied claims that the decision came as a result of opposition and said that “any suggestion that USCIS changed its position because of pressure is absolutely false.”