H-1B Employees Can Stay While Visa Extensions Pending: U.S. Court
A Connecticut judge ruled H-1B visa holders who are having extensions processed would not be arrested or detained.A recent ruling from a federal judge in Connecticut confirmed that the government may not arrest H-1B employees for whom extension applications filed in a timely manner remain pending. The decision in El Badrawi vs. United States, by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall recognized that a federal regulation allows H-1B employees to continue working for 240 days pending the adjudication of their extension applications, and that "work authorization is part and parcel of their authorization to be in the country, not a separate matter." Permitting the initiation of removal proceedings during this period would thus be unfair to employees and employers alike, according to the decision. The AIC (American Immigration Council) and the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) argued the point in their amicus brief. Rashad Ahmad Refaat El Badrawi, the plaintiff, was a Lebanese national who had lived in the United States in compliance with immigration law for over 10 years and was gainfully employed as a medical researcher when his employer requested an H-1B extension in early 2004, more than a month before his H-1B status expired.
Though his employer paid a $1,000 fee for premium processing of the application, the government never adjudicated it and never responded to requests for information on the status of the processing. Nearly seven months after the request was filed, immigration agents arrested the plaintiff for allegedly "overstaying" his initial period of admission. He was placed in removal proceedings and detained for nearly two months.