A spokesperson from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that extensions to the H1B visa program are not under threat, as was widely reported at the start of January.
“USCIS is not considering a regulatory change that would force H1B visa holders to leave the United States by changing our interpretation of section 104(c) of AC-21, which provides for H1B extensions beyond the 6 year limit,” said Jonathan Withington, Chief of Media Relations for USCIS.
The news has resulted in a collective sigh of relief among the community of technology professionals seeking extensions to their time in the country. However, Homeland Security has stated that it was still conducting a thorough review of worker visa programs.
Officials have said that the policy change for H1B extensions was never planned at all, although some reports say the administration changed its mind in response to the swift and harsh reaction from the business community.
The work visa program has long been a political hot potato in the United States, with some politicians repeatedly calling for it to be scrapped, arguing that it led to job losses for Americans.
Each year, the USCIS grants roughly 85,000 H1B visas, which are issued for up to six years. Once expired, visa holders that have applied for green cards routinely seek extensions under the American Competitiveness Act.