A few years back this blog touched on a few of the specifics connected with extending an H-1B visa beyond six years. Given how many of our clients here in the Columbus, Ohio community work closely with the visa we thought another look at this aspect would be helpful.
What is the history of 7th year H-1B extension?
Prior to 2000, if a foreign national here on an H-1B visa could not reach I-485 (permanent resident) status within six year they were required to leave the U.S. What would often happen is that delays in the permanent residence application process meant H-1B visa holders would reach the end of their six years before completion. Since the situation meant employers often lost the investment they had made in skilled employees, Congress elected to introduce AC21.
What is AC21?
In 2000 Congress passed the "American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act," or AC21. Among other things, AC21 allowed for H-1B workers to begin working for a new employer upon filing the petition instead of waiting for approval. It also provided the ability to extend the H-1B visa beyond six years if an ongoing PERM Labor Certification began at least 365 days prior to the end of the sixth year.