As the Biden administration begins to undo the immigration damage caused by the previous leadership, yet another USCIS policy from the past is being reinstated. This time it is regarding the renewal of certain visas categories. USCIS officers are to defer to the merits of previous approvals for any renewals or extensions of some visas including the most popular, work visa, H1-B.
This means that if there aren’t any material changes to the job profile or duties of the beneficiary, and all other validity criteria are met, the H1-B visa extension is automatic and straightforward.
The Trump administration had required that each visa extension be treated as a fresh application. This meant that even if there were no changes in the applicant’s work profile, the work visa could be rejected for an unrelated reason. This led to the following disadvantages –
Tremendous increase in supplemental documentation, adding undue paperwork to the already tedious application process;
- Increase in Request for Evidence, which was a constant need to prove every aspect of the application that was already approved earlier,
- Increase in administrative costs for sponsoring employers,
- Increase in labor staff and consequent expenses for USCIS
- Increase in excessive delays in processing these extension applications which were straightforward in the past and
- Increase in overall denials, with no grounds or basis.
- Over the course of the past few years, there were several court cases filed against such practices and while some were won in favor of the H1-B applicants, many still dragged on over time.
Exceptions To The Rule
In certain cases, the consular officer may not defer to the prior approvals.
The current directive to consular officers is that if there are any material changes to the current work status or any new information is found pertaining to the job duties and in total will undermine the applicant’s eligibility for the visa, the officer can reconsider the extension.
This policy will also not apply if the consular officer finds an error in the previous adjudicating of the H1-B visa.
The H1-B and other non-immigrant visa community applauds this simple revert to how things were earlier. The sponsoring employers can rely on having consistent workers without having to worry about their visa status every time an extension is required.
H1-B, or L1, employees can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are not going to be uprooted from their place of stay and jobs every couple of years.