I Have an H-1B Visa and Just Got Laid Off – What Happens Now?

I Have an H-1B Visa and Just Got Laid Off – What Happens Now?

You’ve uprooted your life, moved to the US and started a great new job with your H-1B Visa in hand – only to find yourself laid off. You may be wondering:

  • What do I need to do to stay in the US?
  • Can I keep my visa if I find a new job?
  • Should I get a US immigration lawyer?
  • How much time do I have to figure things out?

While this situation is stressful, it’s important to remain calm and find out what options are available to you. In this article, we will answer some common questions and help you understand what your next steps should be.

What Is an H-1B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a temporary work visa that allows non-US residents to obtain employment in the US in specialty occupations.

These occupations may include:

  • Accountants and auditors
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Professors
  • Graphic designers and artists
  • Doctors
  • Systems analysts and programmers
  • Teachers

To qualify for an H-1B visa, you must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree
  • Hold extensive knowledge and expertise in your field
  • Have a job offer for a specialty occupation

The H-1B visa is employer specific. This means that your visa only allows you to work for the employer approved in your visa paperwork.

What Happens to my H-1B Visa If I Get Laid Off?

As mentioned above, before you can get approved for an H-1B visa, you need a job offer from a US employer. Once approved, your visa only permits you to work for that specific employer. Your H-1B visa will be revoked if that employer lets you go. If you want to stay in the US and find a new job, you must have another job offer lined up and re-apply for a new H-1B visa.

How Much Time Do I Have to Sort Things Out?

A 10-day or 60-day grace period may be available to you, depending on your circumstances. A US immigration lawyer can advise you on which grace period applies to you.

10-Day Grace Period

Some H-1B visa holders will be given 10 days to leave the US or find a way to maintain their lawful immigration status. This 10-day period begins on the last day of your H-1B visa status from your USCIS Form I-797 approval notice or your I-94 admission record, depending on which date comes first.

60-Day Grace Period

If your H-1B visa status is still valid when your employment is terminated, you have 60 days to maintain your immigration status. This 60-day period begins on your last day of employment.

Steps to Take to Maintain Your Immigration Status

If you are an H-1B visa holder and you have been let go from your job, you have three options:

  • File for a new H-1B visa through USCIS form I-129
  • File for a change of status through USCIS form I-539
  • Leave the United States if you cannot find a new job or file for a change of status within the grace period

Are You Looking for a US Immigration Lawyer?

No matter what option you choose, it is vital to seek advice from a US immigration lawyer who specializes in H-1B visa cases. If you are a Canadian H-1B visa holder working in the US and have been laid off from your job, contact Silver Immigration. Our Montreal-based US immigration lawyer offers free consultations and can help you maintain your immigration status in the United States.

Call us at 1 (888) 799-4769 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation.