What If an H-1B Visa Holder Loses Job in USA?
H-1B visa is for foreign workers who come to the US to work for US companies, temporarily. This visa comes with several advantages but the only disadvantage is that the legit status of the person is entirely dependent on the status of his/her employment. If H-1B Visa Holder Loses Job, then he can stay for a maximum period of 60 days in the USA or if within these days he can find a new job.
If the company they are working for terminates their employment, there are some possible consequences which we will highlight in this article.
What is H-1B Employment?
When you hold an H-1B visa, it means as per law the employer has full authority to terminate your employment for legit reasons at any point in time. On the other hand, this visa gives you the right to be treated like any other US citizen in relation to the company’s policies of employment and termination.
What will happen on Losing H-1B Employment?
Unfortunately, if due to some reason you lose your job while on an H-1B visa in the US, you will get a grace period of 60-days to get another employer who can back you for H-1B employment, or organize for another visa status for you. If none of this happens, then you will have to pack your bags to leave the country.
When Can you leave the Country?
When your employment ends and you have not applied for a change of status in the US, then you get a grace period of 60 days to leave the United States. Or, until your status expires if it happens before the 60 days. The only hopeful thing here is the US Immigration Regulation 8 C.F.R. 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E), which asks the employers of H-1B visa holders to pay the transportation costs of those workers back to their home country. The thing to note here is that the employer will only pay the transportation for the H-1B holder and not his/her dependent on the H-4 visa.
Unlawful Presence Accrual in the US
Once you get terminated by the employer for any reason, the employer has to legally inform the USCIS about the same. On this, your H-1B petition will be taken back. Now, within 60 days of grace time, if you are not able to get employed again, you will be an unlawful citizen in the US. If you are unlawfully staying in the US for more than 180 days, you will be blocked from re-entering for three years, and if you are unlawfully residing for more than 365 days, then you will be blocked from re-entering the US for ten years.
Is there a way to remain in status even after losing the H-1B job?
There are some ways to remain in status even after losing the job:
- If your employer intimates you about the termination in advance, due to poor performance, then you can start searching for a new employer right away.
- If you get an employer who agrees to sponsor H-1B for you, he can file I-129 on your behalf so that you can start working right away, even before USCIS approves it.
- You need to inform UCIS that you are constantly trying to get back into the status while maintaining previous H-1B status.
- You can apply for “change of status” to F-1 so that you can attend a university in the US.
- In case you are allowed to change the status to L-1 or H-4, then you can do so to remain in status.
It is advised to apply for status change as soon as possible so that you do not come to the point of leaving the country.