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H1B Layoff: What Are the Options If You Get Laid Off on H1B?

Updated: Mar 2

After being laid off on an H1B visa, it's undoubtedly a challenging situation. However, there are options available to navigate through this difficult period. Here are the potential alternatives or steps you can consider if you find yourself in a similar situation on an H1B visa.

I was recently laid off while on an H1B visa and approached Dataneb to publish this article, hoping it could be useful for others facing similar circumstances.


Table of Contents: H1B Layoff


H1B Layoff Trends

Below is the H-1B layoff trend in the last five years. One of the major layoffs occurred when COVID hit, and the second wave of layoffs was post-COVID.


h1b layoff

Options After H1B Layoff

Experiencing an H-1B layoff can be challenging, but there are several options to consider:


  • Payroll Extension Request: Be honest, explain your situation, and request your employer to run payroll for some time to buy yourself additional time. Typically, if you have a good relationship with your employer, they may consider your request, granting you an additional 1-2 months. As long as your payroll is active, you will not be out of status.


  • Find Another Job and Transfer H-1B: Start looking for a new job. Once you secure a job offer, your new employer will need to file an H1B petition. You can commence work as soon as you receive the receipt number. Fortunately, I managed to secure a job within the 60-day H1B grace period.


  • Further Education: Pursuing higher education in the U.S. on an F-1 visa might be an option. This could provide you with additional time to find new opportunities while gaining new skills.


  • Change of Status: Explore alternative visa options to determine if you qualify for a different type of visa that enables you to legally stay in the US. For instance, you might consider changing your status to a B1/B2 tourist visa.


  • Consult an Immigration Attorney: Immigration laws are complex and subject to change. Consulting with an immigration attorney can help you navigate the process, understand your options, and ensure compliance with regulations.


  • Leave the US: If you are unable to find a new employer or qualify for a different visa, departing the US becomes necessary. You will need to leave within the grace period provided by USCIS, typically set at 60 days. Leaving the country is not the end of the world, you can still look for a sponsor from your home country.



Change of Status

If you are on an H-1B visa and have been laid off, you may be eligible to change your status to a different visa category. Here are some visa categories that you may be able to switch to:


  • F-1 Student Visa: If you are interested in pursuing further education in the United States, you may be able to switch to an F-1 student visa. Your status will change from H-1B to F-1, and your dependents' status will change from H-4 to F-2.


  • B1/B2 Visitor Visa: If you do not have immediate plans to work in the United States but would like to stay for a short period, you and your family can switch to a B1/B2 visitor visa. Read more.


  • H4 Dependent Visa: If your spouse is on an H1B visa, you can switch to an H4 visa. Furthermore, if your spouse has an approved I-140, you can apply for an H4 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and work in the US. If the primary H1B visa holder has an upcoming extension, you can file an H1B extension, your H4 Change of Status (COS), and H4 EAD together and request premium processing. Read more.


  • J2 or F2 Visa: If your spouse is on a J-1 or F-1 visa, you can switch to a J-2 or F-2 visa temporarily and concurrently continue searching for a job. Read more.



Finding Job After H1B Layoff

Finding a new job quickly after an H-1B layoff can be challenging. I recognize that being laid off adds an extra layer of difficulty to the process, but there are a few steps you can take to expedite the job search and increase your chances of success.


  • Update Resume: Do not upload the same resume everywhere. Make sure your resume is tailored to match the job details. It's beneficial to add a few lines to your resume based on the specific requirements of the job.


  • Leverage Your Network: This greatly assisted me in scheduling interviews within a short period. Reach out to your professional and personal contacts to explore potential job opportunities that align with your skills. Additionally, consider joining online networking groups and connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn.


  • Online Job Boards: Utilize online job boards like Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn to search for job opportunities in your field. Customize your search by location, job title, and other relevant criteria to narrow down your options. One of the significant advantages post-COVID is the abundance of remote job opportunities.


  • Work with a Staffing Agency: Consider working with a staffing agency that specializes in your industry. They can help match you with job opportunities quickly that align with your skills and experience.


  • Be Proactive: Follow up on job applications and reach out to potential employers directly to express your interest in their company and inquire about any job openings.


Remember to stay organized, track your job search progress, and be patient, as finding a new employer on an H-1B visa may take time. If you are getting a 3 to 5% response for your job application, you are doing well.


Ensure that potential employers are aware of the H-1B visa process and are willing to sponsor you before investing significant time and effort into the application process.



Departing US

If you are on an H-1B visa and have been laid off, you automatically receive a 60-day grace period. It's important to note that any severance notice period is considered separate from the USCIS grace period. The grace period, granted by USCIS, allows H-1B visa holders time to make arrangements to depart the United States or find a new employer to sponsor their visa.

If you are unable to find a new employer or qualify for a different visa within the grace period, you will need to depart the United States before the grace period ends. If you fail to depart the United States within the grace period, you may be subject to deportation and future visa ineligibility.



FAQs on H1B Layoffs

How long can I stay on H1B without a job?

H1B visa holders have a 60-day grace period to stay in the US without employment, assuming their I-94 remains valid during this period.


Can an H1B visa holder enter the US if laid off while abroad?

It's not advisable to enter the US on an H1B visa if you have been laid off while outside the US. Essentially, when entering on an H1B visa, you cannot tell the CBP officer that you are still working for that employer. Doing so would be illegal. If you are serving a notice period and you have a future termination date, in that case, you can travel using your H1B visa. Otherwise, you should consider entering the US on other visas, such as a tourist visa.


What are the consequences of H1B out of status?

Consequences of being out of status on an H1B visa may include:


  • Unlawful presence

  • Deportation

  • Ineligibility for extensions or change of status

  • Impact on future visa applications

  • Complications for adjustment of status (permanent residency)



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Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Dataneb is a platform for individuals to share their personal experiences with visa and immigration processes, and their views and opinions may not necessarily reflect those of the website owners or administrators. While we strive to keep the information up-to-date and accurate, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. We strongly advise that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney or official government agencies for any specific questions or concerns related to your individual situation. We are not responsible for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of information provided on this website. By using this website, you acknowledge and agree to the above disclaimer and Google's Terms of Use (https://policies.google.com/terms) and Privacy Policy (https://policies.google.com/privacy).

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