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US layoffs: USCIS issues guidelines for H-1B visa holders laid off or facing termination

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US tech immigration workers have been navigating a unpredictable time for nearly a year now. Major corporations like Google, Tesla, Walmart, and others have announced sweeping layoffs, casting a shadow over the American dreams of countless immigrants. As many in US now struggle to find options USCIS has issued guidelines for those who wrongly assume that they have no option but to leave the country within 60 days.

Facing layoff in US? USCIS publishes a comprehensive guide for immigrant workers with options to stay in country beyond 60 days.(Freepik)

Options for laid off H1-B visa holder

When H-1B visa holders face termination, knowing their options is crucial. Contrary to common misconceptions, they have several avenues to explore before considering leaving the country. With below mentioned options one can stay beyond 60-day grace period:

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  • File an application for a change of nonimmigrant status;
  • File an application for adjustment of status;
  • File an application for a “compelling circumstances” employment authorization document; or
  • Be the beneficiary of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer.

Filing one of these actions within the grace period can extend their authorized stay, even if they lose their previous nonimmigrant status.

Additionally, eligible H-1B nonimmigrants can start working for a new employer as soon as the new H-1B petition is filed. Adjustment of status application can be transferred to a new offer of employment after 180 days of pending status.

Another option is to file a non-frivolous application to change status, which can stop the accrual of unlawful presence until adjudication. This includes changing to dependent status, student status, or visitor status.

Workers eligible for self-petitioned immigrant visa petitions can file concurrently with an adjustment of status application. Pending adjustment applications allow workers to remain in the U.S. and obtain an EAD.

Beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions facing compelling circumstances may qualify for a one-year EAD. This discretionary measure allows workers to continue employment while on the path to lawful permanent resident status.

Some circumstances warrant expedited adjudication, such as preventing severe financial loss. Workers may choose to depart from the U.S., but they should consider their options carefully, especially regarding employer responsibilities and potential readmission.

Understanding these options is crucial for H-1B visa holders facing layoffs, as it enables them to make informed decisions during challenging times.

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