Basic tips for H1B visa holders amid US tech layoffs: Immigration experts explain what to do - Hindustan Times
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Basic tips for H1B visa holders amid US tech layoffs: Immigration experts explain what to do

May 08, 2024 02:21 AM IST

What to do if you're laid off from work as an H1B visa holder? Experts elaborate on the most basic alternatives you can opt for.

A grim face of the US employment industry has been unveiled as tech giants continue to roll out their cost-cutting plans, followed by a slew of layoffs.

Essential alternatives you can look out for if your employment is terminated as an H1B visa holder.
Essential alternatives you can look out for if your employment is terminated as an H1B visa holder.

In January itself, Google laid off hundreds of its employees, following up on its 2023 move of letting go of thousands of workers. Similarly, over a hundred Discord employees suffered the devastating blow earlier this year. More heart-breaking headlines of the same nature followed suit earlier this year as workers at Microsoft, eBay, investment management company BlackRock, video game software company Unity, Amazon-owned company live-streaming company Twitch, and many other giants witnessed threads of the dreadful-themed e-mails pouring in.

Over time, several laid-off employees experiencing the dismayed course of trajectory on their professional paths came out with survival tips and their side of the story on online platforms like LinkedIn. While the thought of losing one's job is already one that quickly swells up the heart with trepidation, the upsetting revelation particularly hits a surge of anxiety in the hearts of H1B employees, who then have a short window of time to make any proactive move and secure their professional future.

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An immigration consultant gave free advice on X/Twitter for those witnessing a similar predicament.

What are your options if you're an H1B employee facing layoffs?

A representative from New York City-based immigration law firm Gehi & Associates explained, “You have sixty days… to find another employer who can file an H1B petition for you.”

The consultation firm also lays down a second “relevant” option. If you're facing any hindrances in finding a new employer who can facilitate that process for you, then “you can file a change of status to a B2 visa. It will allow you a couple of months to find another employer who can file an H1B petition for you.”

Gehi & Associates said these two options have effectively worked out for “so many of their clients.”

Olender, a San Jose-based certified specialist in immigration law, also informs that after the sixty-day grace period of employment termination, H1B workers must depart the US immediately. If they fail to follow the protocols, H1B visa holders may even face deportation, “steep fines and penalties.”

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The firm further explains that when the worker is removed from the payroll, “the H-1B worker is out of status starting 60 days after the last day of work unless the worker has some other concurrent status, for example, a pending I-485 application.”

As unfortunate as it may be, the employer is legally bound to notify USCIS upon the H1B worker's employment termination.

Agreeing with Gehi & Associates' Option B, Olender advises the workers to apply for a status change to another temporary category. However, the application to change status must be received by USCIS before the H1B visa holder's current status expires. An H1B worker may switch to F1 status to study “if admitted to an F-1 approved program.”

On the other hand, applying to change status to B2 is also an option. This visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa that will temporarily allow the concerned person to travel in the US as a tourist.

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