Layoffs are stressful for most employees but for employees whose legal presence in the United States depends on their employment, they can be life-changing. However, there are steps you can take to maintain your immigration status.
If you are currently in the United States on a work visa it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what happens if you lose your job.
Do you have to leave the country?
Though losing your job generally means that you will be “out of status,” it does not usually mean that you have to leave the country immediately. In most cases, there is a 60-day grace period that begins running after the last day that you performed work. However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will also consider your I-94 expiration date. If your I-94 expiration date occurs before the 60-day grace period ends, your lawful status in the US ends on your expiration date.
What can you do if you lose your job?
Most people choose to stay in the US for at least until their 60-day grace period is over. However, if you choose to leave, contact your former employer about relocation expenses. Sponsoring employers who terminate an H-1B visa holder’s employment must pay the cost of a flight for that employee to return to their home country or last country of residence.
If you choose to stay, you can either find work with a new sponsoring employer or apply for a different visa type.
Whichever path you decide to pursue, it is important to act quickly. If you remain in the country after your lawful status expires, it may be difficult to regain your status.