HT Exclusive: Indian American visa podcaster shares H-1B visa hacks to extend stay in US - Hindustan Times

HT Exclusive: Indian American visa podcaster shares H-1B visa hacks to extend stay in US

Jun 18, 2024 08:17 PM IST

Indian American visa podcaster Rahul Menon sheds light on the challenges Indian nationals face with US immigration, from H-1B backlogs to EB-5 visa.

Rowing through the American immigration system has always been a challenge, especially for Indian nationals seeking to establish their careers and lives in the United States.

Indian professionals face challenges with US visas and green cards amidst ghastly layoffs.
Indian professionals face challenges with US visas and green cards amidst ghastly layoffs.

Despite the allure of the American Dream, the reality of securing visas, maintaining legal status, and ultimately obtaining permanent residency often proves to be a complex and arduous journey.

They often say the crest is more important than the name, but that's not helping Indian immigrants, as the State is rubbing 100 years of waiting time on their faces. I mean, 100 years? What are these immigrants? A Yoda or Wolverine?

While talking to, Rahul Menon, an Indian American visa podcaster, ushered in the pressing issues facing the Indian diaspora in the US and emphasised that “there isn’t much Indians across the Atlantic can do to significantly alter their circumstances under the current system.” Was it an exaggeration? Maybe Yes, but only just.

While talking with the outlet, Menon started by answering why “many H-1b holders are facing a 60-day timeline, and can they now opt for Eb-5?”

“EB-5 is not a program that is easily accessible to a lot of people. You need to invest $800,000 to be able to qualify for that program. Even if you had the money and filed concurrently, it will still take a few months to get their Employment Authorization Document (EAD),” he said, and added, “Even folks who have been here for many years find it hard to come up with that money,” with a sarcastic smile on his face.

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‘One more H-1b hack I can suggest is…’: Menon

When questioned, “What are the other avenues one can look upon if you are an H-1b holder now with a 60 days timeline and your company is seeking layoffs ‘I know you can file to change of status to a b2 visa and buy some time"

Menon confidently responded, “See if you are an H-1B holder and have lost your job, you can do one thing-You can buy some time by changing of status to a B2 visa. USCIS has officially confirmed you can do this. Else If you have a spouse who is on an H-1B, you can move to a dependent H4 visa, or if you have a spouse who is on an H-1B with an approved I-140, you can move to a dependent visa and get work authorization as well. This allows you to work and continue earning via temporary gigs/side hustles while you search for your next job.”

“One more hack I can suggest, what you can do is to go back to school to upskill yourself. In doing so, you can go back to an F1 visa and maintain your immigration status.”

Notably, Rahul himself is swimming into the H-1b backlogs after working for an oil and gas firm and staying in the US for the last eight years.

“Out of the 445,418 F1 visas issued in 2023, over 130,000 visas were issued to Indian students. People coming here need to be aware of the immigration system before it is too late. Either they can be better prepared to navigate the system or can look at alternative options to US. To create this awareness, my friend, Sanjay Krishna and I started the podcast, Area 51,” the Maharashtra Institute of Technology goer added.

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Many giants, including Amazon, Google, Meta, and Tesla, are laying off hundreds of employees. These affected Indian professionals face a double whammy. Not only are they struggling to maintain their immigration status in the U.S., but also find it difficult to secure positions back in India.

“Major tech firms are reducing PERM filings which is the first step to a green card. Layoffs and lawsuits claiming that these firms are prioritizing visa holders over US citizens are the main reasons,” Menon shared.

“So there are a large number of people who are impacted by this. In order to help them out, the Area 51 team have compiled a database of more than 6000 firms who have applied for employment based green cards in the past year,” he concluded.

Check the PERM database here.

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