The season of layoff that Elon Musk started with the downsizing of employees after his takeover of Twitter has spiraled out of control to impact over 91,000 tech workers including non-immigrants on H1B and other visas in the US so far. Reportedly, the layoff season will extend into the New Year 2023 and turn many American Dreams into nightmares. The laid-off H1B visa holders and others are nearing their 60-day stay deadline in America. With thousands of non-immigrants at this juncture, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has come up with some lawful options for laid-off non-immigrants to continue their stay in the US.
Have you been served the layoff notice at your current job recently? Get into an open talk with your employer or the HR manager and negotiate for a less severance package so that the last few days of your employment in the current organization can be extended. The longer you can manage to stay employed, the more time you will get to look for another job during the layoff season in the US.
Adjusting your H1B visa status to a H4 is one of the surest ways to continue staying even after the layoff in the US. That’s possible only if both you and your spouse are H1B visa holders. You will get another chance to relive your American Dream while staying as a dependent of your spouse.
You can switch to O-1 in the “extraordinary ability” category during the 60-day grace period following the termination of your employment on H1B, if you meet the eligibility criteria for an O-1 visa. O-1A/B is a non-immigrant US visa for individuals who have extraordinary ability or achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, sports, cinema and television. If you are a highly qualified STEM professional, you may qualify for an O-1A visa in the field of sciences. A good lawyer can help you determine your eligibility. Then you can go the ‘premium processing’ way.
With a change in your visa status, you can continue to stay in the US beyond the 60-day grace period. If you are alone in the US (precisely having no one to provide for there), you can consider changing to a student visa, F-1. However, you should file an application for the change of your non-immigrant status before the H1B grace period expires. The US has some cheap colleges that offer affordable courses for international students.
Are you among the recently laid-off individuals on a 60-day deadline in the US? If yes, that’s very unfortunate. The 60-day grace period is the most crucial time of your life in the land of American Dream. Utilize your sources, leverage your networking, and make appeals for jobs in online community groups. You can reach out to Indian-origin business leaders on LinkedIn. You can also contact the board members of Indian temples in the city where you are residing. There are Indian community leaders among them; you can seek their help to find an employer who can sponsor your H1B visa before the grace period expires.
Once you get a new employer, you can benefit from the portability rules. The portability rules allow H1B workers to take up new employment without waiting for approval of the new H1B petition filed by the new employer. Of course, the new employer’s permission matters. You can request the new employer for premium processing of the H1B petition. You can continue your stay in the US unless the USCIS takes a call on your employment transfer and conveys its decision to you.
You can use your approved I-140 for an extension of your H1B visa with a new employer. Form I-140 is an immigrant visa petition to the USCIS, seeking to classify non-immigrant foreign workers as legal permanent residents based on employment. Your I-140 approval must be valid unless the petition for an extension of your H1B visa is approved. If the employer who petitioned for your immigrant visa withdraws the I-140 petition within fewer than 180 days of approval after terminating your employment, your H1B status won’t extend with the new employer.