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When You Lose Your Job on an H1-B Visa

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on October 15, 2018

When an H-1B employee is terminated or laid off, he may have a few options to maintain lawful migration status. Under a new rule that became effective in 2017, an H-1B worker has up to 60 days or until the expiration of his current I-94 to change status, find new employment, or leave the United States.

An individual who is released from H-1B employment and remains the U.S. after the grace period ends is in violation of his status and could face harsh legal consequences if the USCIS finds that he is unlawfully present. The grace period begins on the day employment with the sponsoring employer ends, even if one receives severance pay.

Finding Another Job

When the worker finds a new job, he will need to file a new H-1B visa petition. Since the worker already received a work visa with the first employer, filing a new petition is much simpler. The worker is not subject to H-1B visa caps. He can apply at any time during the year. He can begin working with the new employer right away (known as porting) or file multiple petitions at once (bridging.) While an approved petition does not extend the person’s stay last the date on his I-94 card, he can file for an extension to remain in the United States.

Changing to Dependent H-4 Status

If a spouse is also in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, the unemployed worker can apply to change his status to a Dependent H-4. This allows one to remain in the U.S. legally, provided the spouse is maintaining lawful H-1B status.

Changing to B-1 Visa

Filing for a temporary nonimmigrant visa status on a B-1 can allow a person more time in the U.S from about six months to a year. But a downside is that a person under this status is not allowed to engage in gainful employment. The B-1 visa serves as a temporary solution until the worker is able to find a new job and file for a new H-1B visa.

Changing to F-1 Student Status

If a person is accepted by a college or university for a full-time program, he or she may be able to change to F-1 status to pursue another degree.