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H-1B Visa Expired? The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act Could Help!

H-1B visa holders face challenges if they need to renew their visa or they want to change employers. This creates a crisis for foreign workers when the 6-year H-1B visa limit expires and a crisis for employers facing U.S. labor shortages who rely on a talented, skilled global workforce. The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act Could Help.

What Is An H-1B Visa?

An H-1B visa is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers in specialty occupations. There is an annual limit of 85,000 H-1B visas for highly educated and skilled foreign workers with specialized knowledge. With over 300,000 applicants in the annual visa lottery and a U.S. labor shortage, there is high demand in the business and tech industries for H-1B visa holders.

The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act: AC21

The AC21 law was passed in 2000 to let H-1B holders extend their visa beyond the maximum six-year stay if they are approved for a green card but need to wait for a green card number to become available. The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act allows immigrants on an H-1B visa to continue working and provides stability to the worker, their family and their employer.

The 4 key provisions of AC21 are:

  • Make H-1B visas and Form I-140s portable, which allows some foreign workers the flexibility to change employers without losing their place in the green card line.
  • Provides extensions of status for H-1B visa holders applying for Adjustment Of Status to certain employment-based immigrant visa preference categories who are negatively impacted by annual caps on available employment-based immigrant visas or slow processing times.
  • Creates a separate H-1B visa pool for applicants holding master’s degrees, which increases the chances that advanced degree-holders may successfully obtain H-1B visas.
  • Created a cap-exemption for H-1B petitions submitted by certain institutions of higher education and certain non-profit and governmental research organizations, making it easier for them to employ talented foreign workers.

The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) can be very confusing. An experienced business immigration lawyer can advise H-1B visa holders concerned about losing their status on whether AC21 is applicable in their situation.

Contact A Cook and DuPage County Business Immigration Lawyer

A business immigration lawyer works with both employers who want to hire skilled foreign workers and foreign nationals who want to come to the United States to work temporarily or permanently. Contact Godoy Law Office at 630-912-0322. Godoy Law Office serves the entire Chicago, Illinois area, including DuPage, Cook, Kane, Will and Lake Counties.

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