Q. I was laid off from my job a month ago in the US and my H1B visa will be revoked. I am still in the US, so what are my options?
A. Don’t panic, as this is a more common situation than you might think, and while the H1B rules are pretty strict on having active employment, there are some potential solutions:
- Grace Period to Stay in the US
First, it is good that you are only one month ‘out of status’, since in January of this year the USCIS changed the grace period for being able to legally stay in the US and try to transfer your work authorization. You now have 60 days to find a new sponsor and position, so as of now you can still look for work for one more month.
This is probably the best option, but you also need to plan ahead in case you can’t find a new sponsor within the next month.
- Go Home and Look for a Position From There
Because you only have one month left of the grace period, you might want to consider returning to your home country. You can still look for positions from there without worrying about being out of status in the US. If you go past the two-month grace period, a new employer could not transfer your work authorization since it would no longer be valid.
In other words, it would not matter if you find a job after 60 days, as there would be no legal way to work at the position as a foreign national. You would have to go home anyway.
Normally, your original employer is supposed to shoulder the cost for repatriation to your country in the case of a lay-off, so you should contact them to see if they are still willing. But, if they already offered and you refused (because you wanted to find a new job), then they are no longer required to pay your ticket.
- Enroll in a University and Convert to Student Status
Because your work authorization is still valid for another month, you have the option of converting your status to that of a student. However, after the grace period expires you won’t be able to do this conversion of status (since you won’t have one to convert legally)
If you take this route, then you would have ample time to look for a new sponsor and position while you are studying. You could apply to a few schools while you are still looking for a job in the next month.
- Don’t Consider Overstaying and Hope it Will Turn Out OK
If you simply want to stay in the US it is tempting to let your work authorization expire and become an illegal immigrant. While it is unlikely that you will be found out, there are consequences to this choice. After 180 days of overstay you will face a three year bar from applying for any visa once you leave the US for any reason.
Sure, you could find work as an illegal immigrant, but authorities are cracking down and worksite inspections and documents checks are becoming more frequent. If you are lucky, you might a find a US citizen to marry, which would solve your out of status problem and could lead to permanent residency. But this is hardly a good strategy if your original intention was to work in the US in your specialty occupation.
Let us help you find a new sponsor and position, and transfer your H1B legally without all the stress of overstaying or not having a legal work status in the US.
- July 31st, 2017