I Am on H1B and Just Got Laid Off. What Are My Options?

H1b visa for foreign workers showing wooden letters with US or united states flag as backgroundIn a time of constant news coverage of large-scale layoffs, losing their job is top of mind for those working in most industries. Many visa-holders experience being laid off on HB1 each year, so it can be helpful to remember you are not alone — especially when the immigration lawyers Lakeland, FL, are here to help.

What is an H1B Visa?

H1B is a nonimmigrant visa that allows employers to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers. It usually applies to highly skilled foreign employees serving in industries requiring a particular level of expertise. Qualifying candidates for an H1B visa must have an employer to sponsor the petition for their temporary employment authorization.

What happens after I’m laid off from my H1B employment?

Since the H1B visa depends on the visa-holder, they must find an alternative sponsored position or a different way to remain in the U.S. If you are laid off on H1B, you still have a valid visa. You are within your period of authority to stay in the U.S.

Under Section 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2), H1B employees who are laid off maintain their nonimmigrant status for a 60-day “grace period” or until the end of their authorized validity period, whichever is shorter. The grace period begins on the day you stop working. The exception occurs if the employee’s authorized stay expires in fewer than 60 days. In this case, the earlier date will be the visa’s expiration unless the visa holder finds an alternate accommodation. At this point, the H1B extension processing time is not feasible.

The most common option is for people to secure a new source of employment quickly. An employee cannot apply for this visa, and the employer must do it.

Find Another Job in the U.S.

Until you secure a new position, “job searching” will become your full-time task. Finding an employer who will sponsor the H1B visa can be tricky, but it is not impossible.

Once you secure a new position, the new employer can apply for an H1B change on your behalf. At this point, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services can either approve, decide too much time has elapsed since the H1B layoff, or deny the petition.

If you cannot secure another job, you must leave the country to change to another nonimmigrant status before the visa’s expiration. Otherwise, you may be subject to accruing unauthorized stay. Luckily, numerous options for status changes are available to which H1B visa holders could potentially transfer.

Change to Dependent H-4 Status

Sometimes, if your spouse or dependent also has a valid H1B employment visa, you could change your status to an H4. This will require you to file proper documentation and USCIS procedures.

Apply to a College or University and Change to F-1 Student Status

This option depends heavily on the time of year and the type of admissions with whom you will be dealing. It requires an individual to enroll and be accepted into an accredited school. Rolling admissions would help, though. The college application would likely be for an additional degree in a full-time academic program.

Apply for a B-2 Tourist Visa

This type of tourist visa must be filed before the 60-day grace period ends. Remember, the USCIS will not process an H1B petition for an extension with a pending B-2 application simultaneously. But this can be complicated — as B2 status is not an appropriate one to look for another job. Having an immigration attorney can help you deal with this.

Final Thoughts on Options After an H1B Layoff

Take steps as soon as you find out they are necessary. An immigration attorney can help determine the best option for your situation.

For personalized assistance with your case, contact the immigration attorneys Tampa, FL, at Espinoza Law Offices.