Losing your job can be devastating, especially when you are a work visa holder. While an H1B visa grants you many benefits, it may also limit your options. Fortunately, a grace period allows you to stay legally in the U.S. to fix your lawful status, but you should still act quickly.
What happens to my work visa if I lose my job?
An H1B visa allows you to work in the United States for American employers. However, the length of your visa is dependent on your status and employer. Your visa status requires you to work and earn wages from the same employer as well.
If you lose your job, you have a 60-day grace period to get your affairs in order. H1B visa holders can use this time to seek employment, apply for a different visa status or arrange to fly back home.
How can I extend my stay in the U.S.?
To maintain lawful status, you have two primary options:
- Find a new job within 60 days
These two months can go by fast, so it is best to start searching and applying for a new job as soon as possible. Your employer must file a new Labor Condition Application and Form I-129 for you, which can take time to approve. If everything goes well, you may be able to transfer your H1B visa to your new employer.
- Apply for another visa
Sometimes, getting laid off presents other opportunities. You may be eligible to apply for a different type of visa to extend your stay in the country.
For instance, a tourist visa could help you get the vacation you desperately need, while a student visa may be your chance to return to college and build your skillset.
Failing to maintain an H1B visa or change its status in a timely manner may leave you no other option but to depart the United States before your grace period ends.
Looking for employment while trying to understand the processes of maintaining a lawful status can be tiring and time-consuming. You worked hard to get here; you want to make sure everything runs smoothly. Working with an immigration lawyer might help you determine the best ways to proceed.