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Options for Laid-Off H-1B Workers

H1B lawyer

Legal Help from an H1B Lawyer

As the media has reported, several large U.S. companies have recently announced layoffs of thousands of workers. Many of these layoffs have affected foreign employees working on H-1B visas who must now find work for other companies quickly to be able to remain in the country. In most cases, laid-off H-1B workers have 60 days to find new jobs unless their authorized stay on their I-94s is shorter. If you have recently been laid off from your job as an H-1B worker and are searching for alternatives, you should speak to a Miami H1B lawyer at Pozo Goldstein in Miami as soon as possible. If you don’t find new work within the grace period, you will have to leave the U.S. and try to find a new sponsoring employer from outside the country. Here are some options to consider.

Change of Status to an F-1 Student Visa

One potential option that might be available is a change of status from an H-1B to an F-1 visa. This type of visa can be an appropriate choice if you plan to further your education at an approved university in the U.S. To do this, you will first need to apply to a university and be accepted. You will also need to get a copy of the I-20 form and file Form I-539 along with the required fee. You will also have to pay the I-901 SEVIS fee and present documentation showing that you will be able to financially support yourself during your studies. This might be an option for people who have Bachelor’s degrees and wish to pursue a graduate degree. However, since the grace period for remaining in the U.S. is short, you’ll have to move quickly. If your grace period for remaining in the U.S. on your H-1B visa expires, you’ll need to return to your home country while waiting for the change of status to an F-1 visa to be approved.

Take Another Job

If you won the H-1B visa lottery to get your current visa, you can accept another job elsewhere in the U.s. from an employer who is hiring H-1B workers. You can expand your search beyond your current location to search for employers with openings that are willing to sponsor H-1B employees for jobs they are struggling to fill with U.S. workers. If you did not win your visa through the H-1B visa lottery, you will only be eligible to accept a position for a cap-exempt H-1B visa holder, including universities, NGOs, government research organizations, or non-profits associated with universities. If you are from Singapore or Chile, you might also be eligible for a limited H-1B1 visa. Some other potential options include the following:

  • L-1 transfer visas for inter-corporate moves
  • O-1 visa for extraordinary workers
  • E-3 specialty visa if you are from Australia
  • TN USMCA professional visa if you are from Mexico or Canada
  • J-1 visa to work as an intern

If you are married to a permanent U.S. resident or citizen, you can also apply to adjust your status to remain in the U.S. based on your spouse’s status.

Change of Status to an E-2 Visa

If you are from a country with which the U.S. has an investment treaty, one option is to apply for a treaty investor E-2 visa. You will need to be prepared to make a significant investment in a start-up company for which you have a 50% ownership interest or have operational control or buy a business.

You can pursue expedited processing to change your status to an E-2 visa to receive a decision from the USCIS within a couple of weeks.

If you are not from a treaty investment country, you can still try to get an E-2 visa by making a large investment in one of the approved investment programs. Once you do, you can then apply for an E-2 visa.

Get Help From an H1B Lawyer

If you have received notice of an impending layoff and are authorized to work in the U.S. under an H-1B visa, you need to act quickly. It can take a lot of work to solve the challenges you are facing, and having the help of an experienced Miami immigration lawyer at Pozo Goldstein might help you to avoid being forced to leave the U.S. Call us today for an appointment at (305) 856-0400.

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