Tougher Scrutiny on Non-Immigrant Visa Extensions Announced

The non-immigrant visas like H-1B and L1 are getting their nooses tightened…again. Under the Buy American, Hire American initiatives of the Trump Government, the past several months have seen various ways of making it harder for the non-immigrant worker and its employers to come into the United States. Adding to the push, a recent circular by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has an updated policy that emphasis a stricter vigilance on petitioners requesting an extension of their non-immigrant visas like H-1B and L1 visas.

Earlier, an extension would happen by default and the decision was essentially based on the initial findings of the approved petition. The petitioner submitted a Form I-129 and the consular officer just had to ensure that the key elements like the petitioner, beneficiary and other underlying factors were unchanged and there was no evidence of a material error or fraud related to the prior determination. Now, however, the consular officer will be re-vetting the extension application and its supporting evidence with a fine-toothed comb to determine the extension’s eligibility. This would mean that an automatic extension will not always be granted as in the past.

While requests for non-immigrant visa extensions may not always go through, it also implies that there could be a potential delay in processing these petitions. H-1B and L1 visa petitioners and their employers should be prepared to furnish additional supporting evidence to justify the extension of stay. The updated policy on extensions places the burden of proof entirely on the petitioner, which makes it harder as well as tedious for them to request these.

With a clear attempt at making it harder and harder to come into the United States on any of the non-immigrant visas, this updation sends out a clear signal. L-1B visas holders are transferred from a foreign entity to a local outfit with the option of working for up to five years in the U.S. This category is not subject to an annual limit or prevailing wage requirements. If you are seeking an extension of your L1 visa, L1 visa extension and renewal walks every petitioner through the document-requirements for this procedure.

The other H-1B visa however, can come for six years with the potential for an extension of the H1-B visa. This visa is subjected to an annual cap of 65,000 and is allotted based on advanced proficiency in a field ranging from technology to science.