US H-1B visa restrictions to end in two years

WASHINGTON: The US government’s controversial restriction on companies hiring skilled foreign workers with non-immigrant H-1B visas will continue 

for only two years, the immigration department has said.

As part of a stimulus package passed last month for revival of the economy, President Barack Obama signed a new law, named “Employ American Workers Act”, which makes it difficult for the companies having received government bailout funds to hire H-1B foreign workers. 

However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in a circular issued with its invitation of H-1B applications for the next fiscal, has now made it clear that the EAWA requirements are not permanent and would “sunset two years from the date of enactment.” 

EAWA, which prevents a company from displacing US workers when hiring H-1B specialty occupation workers if the company received stimulus funds, took effect on February 17, 2009 and it applies to any “hire” taking place before February 17, 2011. 

The Act defines “hire” as an employer permitting a new employee to commence a period of employment; that is, the introduction of a new employee to the employer’s US workforce. 

USCIS has said that it would begin accepting H-1B visa applications from April 1 for the next fiscal and would subject the applications to various terms and conditions related to EAWA.

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