July 6, 2023

I Am On an H1B and Just Got Laid Off, What Are My Options?

Anish Parikh and Sonia Mann, Attorneys at Parikh Law Group

Losing one’s job unexpectedly is a stressful experience for anyone, but it can be particularly worrisome if you’re a foreign worker in the US on an H1B visa. The H1B visa allows you to live and work in the United States, however it is tied to one’s employer. If you are on an HIB visa and you’ve are suddenly laid off, naturally you would be concerned about your immigration status and unsure about next steps to take.

In this article, we will discuss the terms and conditions of the H1B visa, the grace period for those who are laid off, and the options available to you. Additionally, we’ll explain how Parikh Law Group, with its experienced team of immigration attorneys, can help you navigate this challenging time.

H1B Visa Terms and Conditions

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits foreign professionals to work in the United States in a specialty occupation. It is granted for an initial period of three years, which can be extended for another three years, for a total of six years. However, under certain circumstances, the visa can be extended beyond the six-year limit. The H1B visa is employer-specific, which means that if you lose your job, your visa status is affected.

H1B Lay – Off Grace Period

If you’re an H1B visa holder who’s just been laid off, you should know that you have a 60-day grace period (or until your I-94 expires, whichever comes first). During this grace period, you are allowed to remain in the United States and search for a new job. You must find a new employer who is willing to file a new H1B petition on your behalf before this grace period expires. If you fail to do so, you may have to leave the United States.

Your Options When Laid Off While on an H1B Visa

Suppose you’ve been laid off while on an H1B visa, don’t panic. There are several options available to you:

  1. Find a new employer: Your top priority should be to find a new employer who can sponsor your H1B visa. They will need to file a new H1B petition on your behalf, and it must be approved before you can start working for them. Be sure to act quickly, as the 60-day grace period goes by fast.
  2. Change your visa status: If you’re unable to find a new employer, consider changing your visa status. For example, you could apply for a change of status to a B1/B2 visitor visa, which would allow you to stay in the United States for a limited time while you continue your job search.
  3. Apply for a different visa: You may also qualify for a different type of visa, such as an O1 visa (for individuals with extraordinary ability). Consult with an immigration attorney to determine if you’re eligible for any other visa category types.
  4. Leave the United States: If you cannot find a new employer or change your visa status, you may need to leave the United States. You can then apply for a new H1B visa from your home country, or explore other options for returning to the United States in the future.

If You Have a Pending Green Card Application Before Getting Laid Off

The situation becomes more complex if you are on an H1B visa and have a pending green card application when you get laid off.

In general, if you were in the process of transitioning from an H1B visa to a green card (permanent residency) through the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process and were laid off, it could impact your application.

If your I-140 has been approved and you’ve filed the I-485 form (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), you’re in a better position. After 180 days of pending status, you can change jobs or employers without affecting your application as long as the new job is in the same or similar occupational classification.

Consult an Immigration Lawyer Immediately to Know Your Options

It’s important to act quickly if you’ve been laid off while on an H1B visa. Consult with the experienced immigration attorneys at Parikh Law Group to explore your options and ensure that that you take the appropriate steps to maintain your legal status in the United States. We understand the complexities of the immigration system and are dedicated to helping you find the best solution for your situation.

Do not hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced immigration attorneys for help – the sooner you act, the better your chances of finding a solution that works for you.