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Administration Backs off Threats to Stop AC21 Post-Sixth-Year H-1B Extensions

USCIS has indicated that it is no longer considering a reinterpretation of the rule that permits extensions of H-1B status beyond the initial six years where green card cases have long been pending, as permitted under the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21).

In a statement to TechCrunch, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Chief of Media Relations Jonathan Withington indicated that no regulatory change to this effect is currently under consideration noted that the agency is examining other potential policy changes in light of the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order, which the president signed last April. That includes “a thorough review of employment based visa programs,” though USCIS explained that the H1-B extension policy was not on the chopping block.

USCIS further claims that even if it had been considering such a change, it would only have impacted three-year extensions past the six years under AC21 Section 104(a), not one year extensions under AC21 Section 106(c) and so few would be required to leave - this assertion is highly questionable; some individuals eligible for 104(c) extensions may not have been eligible for extensions under 106(a) if their permanent residence cases weren't begun sufficiently early in the process.

While this clarification is a relief to many, the Administration continues to take target the H-1B program, and the situation requires ongoing monitoring for those impacted.