Court: H1-B workers with pending extensions can stay in US

A federal judge in Connecticut recently ruled that foreign nationals who are in the US on a H1-B work visa cannot be arrested for overstaying the visa if their application for an extension is pending.

The case, El Badrawi v. United States, involved a Lebanese man employed in the US as a medical researcher on such a work visa, according to Hispanically Speaking News. His employer filed for an extension of the worker’s H1-B visa one month before it expired, and even paid a $1,000 fee to have the extension processed more quickly, but the government allegedly never issued it and refused to respond to requests for further information.

Almost seven months after the request was filed, the Lebanese national was arrested for overstaying his work visa and detained for two months, it was claimed.

Now, the judge has ruled that his arrest was unlawful, as federal regulation allows H1-B visa holders to stay and work in the US for 240 days pending the adjudication of their visa extensions.

The ruling is a victory for the rule of law and common sense, said Melissa Crow of the American Immigration Council (AIC), one of two organizations that argued against removal proceedings like those allegedly exercised against the Lebanese man in an amicus brief, Economic Times reports.