The tech industry in the United States has had a lot of ups and down lately, and some of the giants in the field have been laying people off. For those native to the U.S. and those with green cards, that’s upsetting enough.
However, a layoff can spark a real crisis for those workers here on an H-1B visa. In order to remain lawfully within U.S. borders, those visa holders must remain actively employed. Once their employer notifies the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the change, the worker is then considered “out of status.”
That doesn’t mean you have to leave the U.S. right away
If you find yourself in this position, you don’t have to pack your bags immediately. Generally speaking, you get a 60-day window of opportunity, or grace period, to find a new employer from the date of your last actual day of work (not the last day of pay).
If you don’t think remaining in the U.S. is possible or you decide to return to your home country, that gives you time to get your personal affairs in order. If you do want to remain in this country, you will need to find a new employer who is willing to sponsor your H-1B visa – so that means pivoting rather quickly into a job search.
Once you find a new employer who welcomes your skills, your employer will file a new application with the U.S. Department of Labor and then a new Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS.
If you cannot find a new job in time, you may not be out of options
Job searches can be frustrating, especially in uncertain economic times. That means it’s always wise to look into the alternatives. For example, you may be able to return to school on a student visa to get a new degree and improve your marketability for the future. Or, if your spouse is employed on an H-1B visa and retained their job, you may be able to apply for a dependent spouse visa.
When something affects your immigration status, don’t panic; Experienced legal guidance can help you fully explore your options and keep you where you want to be.