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Laid off on H-1B Visa - 6 Options you have

Today we will share 6 ideas or options that you may have to stay back in the US if you’re on H-1B Visa and are impacted by a layoff.

We have also covered this topic in a multiple videos, one with an Immigration lawyer a couple of months back and one very recently on our YouTube channel. We're linking both of them here for your reference.

By now, everyone knows that ~150,000 people got laid off in 2022. And then back in January the layoffs hit at Google too. Looking at how things are, there may still be some more layoffs in the tech industry.

Overall, at least 10% are immigrants on visas who may have to leave this country in 60 days if they don’t secure another job sponsoring their H-1B.

If you’re one of them (or know someone), please read this article carefully because we'll be sharing some ideas on how you can navigate this scenario:

DISCLAIMER: None of this is legal advice. Just insights based on my research.

Ask your employer for a "garden leave":

Ok, this is difficult. But the circumstances demand this. A garden leave is something in which Instead of more severance you ask your employer to let you stay for an extra month or two. Very high chances that it will be rejected. More than that, very difficult to actually find someone in a large organization who would know about this. But, Like I said, it’s worth trying if you’re in a small to mid size organization.

Shift to H-4 Visa & get an EAD if you’re married to another H-1B holder who also has their I-140 approved

Now, this is a no brainer. Even if the spouse doesn’t have an approved I140, it gives you an opportunity to stay back in the country and figure out your next steps in the next few months.

Remember the idea is to remain in legal status.

Options if you're laid off on H-1b Visa.png
Options if you're laid off on H-1b Visa.png

Move to a B1/B2 visitor visa temporarily (Change of Status)

  • B-2 lets you stay in the country for 6 months.

  • Current backlog to get the B-2 is 12+ months. BUT, the moment you put in an application you’ll be under “Change of Status” and can stay on it.

  • Transfer back to an H-1B once you get a job offer.

  • However, please remember that you’ll need to get a new stamp before working again.

We know a few people who had the 10 year B1/B2 visa before they’d moved to the H-1B visa. They were able to maintain their status.

Go back to school on an F-1 visa (Change of Status)

  • Find an inexpensive university (like CUNY, Brigham, etc) that offers a degree program you’re interested in.

  • Although H-1B to F-1 processing times are high, like the B-1, it lets you stay in the country until you get a job. But we hear that Premium processing for that is coming soon. So it may turn out well for you.

Consider applying for the O-1 visa

  • The O-1A is a temporary visa for people who are at the top of their fields.

  • Have you judged competitions? Make a high salary? Won awards? Published papers? All of this counts. We’ve done an extensive video on what’s on O-1 Visa with immigration lawyer Sonal Sharma. Please check it out.

  • However, it is very difficult to make a case for yourself for an O1 Visa. Please keep that in mind.

Talk to an Immigration Lawyer

Please consult an Immigration attorney. Pay that initial consulting fees. That $300-400 you spend there can actually change the course of your life. I can only give you tips and ideas they are the ones with the actual capability to help you.

If none of the above work out, it’s ok. Yes, you heard that right. It’s Ok.

As much as it sucks, you can always return back to the U.S. through the H-1B or another visa.

That’s it for today guys. Please share this article with others so that it reaches more immigrants who got laid off.

And remember if things are not going your way today, it soon will. It’s Ok Yaar.

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