*Practice limited to federal immigration law. Licensed in NY, MA, but not in CA.

H-1B Employees and Layoffs: What to Know About Your Immigration Status

The California Department of Health recommends social distancing to slow the transmission of COVID-19. An unfortunate consequence of the necessary public health measures is that there has been tremendous economic disruption. As reported by CNBC, 36.5 million American workers were laid off in an eight-week period following the outbreak of the virus. 

Non-immigrant employment visa holders face some unique challenges. Not only do these employees have to deal with a sudden loss of income, but they also have to worry about their immigration status. Here, our Los Angeles H-1B visa lawyers explain what you should know if you are an H-1B visa holder who has been laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

After a Layoff, an H-1B Holder is Immediately Out of Status

One of the first questions that most H-1B holders have after a layoff is: Am I considered to be out of status? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. As soon as H-1B employment ends—whether from a layoff or for any other reason—the visa holder is out of status. To be clear, this does not mean that H-1B visa holders must leave the United States right away. While you are technically out of status after a layoff, you still have options available to remain in the county. 

Take Action to Protect Your Rights: File Fresh H-1B Visa Application or Change to B1/B2

As was mentioned, H-1B workers can remain in the United States as long as their I-94 admission form is still valid. Of course, you may need to take action to protect your rights and interests. As a general rule, H-1B visa holders who have been laid off have two basic options available: 

  1. Look for a new position and file a fresh H-1B visa application; or
  2. Change your status to a B1 or B2 visitor visa. 

The best path forward depends entirely on your specific circumstances. If your employer revoked your H-1B visa, you may need to change your status right away. In contrast, if your employer did not revoke the visa, you may be better off looking for a new H-1B visa position. Additionally, some workers may be rehired in the coming weeks. You may still be able to get back in your previous position. 

Relief is Not Expected from the Trump Administration

Over the past two months, the United States has suffered sharper, deeper job losses than any other time in modern history. It is the time of severe public health and economic crisis that warrants immediate action. Unfortunately, specialized relief for H-1B visa holders is not expected from the federal government. 

According to reporting from The New York Times, the Trump Administration is unlikely to allow laid off H-1B visa holders to remain in the country through any type of targeted COVID-19 relief program. That being said, this is a fluid situation. Our law firm is closely monitoring all legislative and regulatory developments.  

Call Our Los Angeles, CA H-1B Visa Attorneys for Immediate Assistance

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our California immigration lawyer is an experienced, solutions-driven advocate for clients. If you were laid off and you have questions about your H-1B visa, we are available to help. Call us now for a strictly confidential consultation. We represent H-1B visa holders in Los Angeles and throughout the surrounding region in Southern California.

Josh Goldstein
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