International Students Immigration Blog

H1B Layoff Survival Tips: What to Do Next

H1B Layoff

 

The recent tech layoff wave has put a lot of H1B visa holders in the U.S. on the edge since they are not sure what will happen to them. Since the news of H1B layoffs is still making headlines, it is important for all affected people to be aware of their options and go through the maze of laws related to their visa status.

This article is intended to help and support H1B holders who have been laid off. It explains the 60-day grace personal example, gives examples of how people overcame this period, and discusses different ways to keep their legal status in the U.S. We will also look at the opinions of legal experts and industry professionals about H1B workers' situation now in the tech sector.

 

1. Recent Trends in Tech Layoffs

The entire tech industry is in the middle of a huge layoff wave that has been going on for the last few months, with many H-1B visa holders being among those who were suddenly out of work.

In 2022, the top H-1B employers hired more than 34,000 new H-1B workers, making up almost half the total cap of 85,000 annually. Nevertheless, these companies either already or perhaps will lay off at least 85,000 workers between 2022 and early 2023.

News: Tesla's late decision to dismiss over 16,000 employees has greatly affected the tech industry. This step, affecting over 10% of Tesla's global workforce, is especially critical for H-1B visa holders, mainly Indians and Chinese. 

๐ŸŒŸ Most Impacted Challenges for H1B Visa Holders

  • Green Card Delays: The slow green card process may compel H1B visa holders to stay with one employer for a long time. This system's inflexibility makes them even more vulnerable during layoffs, as they may have to wait years before being granted permanent residency;
  • Maintain legal Status;
  • Loss stream of income.

๐ŸŒŸ Top Tech Companies and H1B Layoffs

Company
Layoffs in 2023
H1B Slots Allocated
Amazon
16,080
19,473
Alphabet (Google)
12,000
9,935
Microsoft
11,158
7,819
Meta (formerly Facebook)
10,000
4,384

2. Navigating the 60-Day Grace Period

H1B visa holders who have been terminated from their jobs have a 60-day grace period to find new employment, change their visa status, or prepare to leave the United States. The grace period starts on the last day of employment, not the last paycheck. H1B workers must be aware of the rules and restrictions of this grace period so that they will not be out of status.

2.1 - Key Points to Remember

  1. The 60-day grace period is counted in calendar days, weekends and holidays are included.
  2. H1B visa holders are prohibited from working for any employer during the grace period.
  3. The grace period cannot be extended.
  4. The grace period is one-time for each H1B. (If you have an H1B transferred, you will be given another grace period. )

2.2 - Options During the H1B Grace Period

In the H-1B grace period, which is up to 60 days after leaving work, an H-1B visa holder has many choices regarding how to stay legally in the United States. The following are the steps you should follow:

Option 1 - Seek New Employment:
  • Start job hunting right away to find a new employer who will be ready to file an H-1B petition on your behalf.
  • When you have a new employer, make sure they file an H-1B transfer petition before the end of your 60-day grace period.
Option 2 - Change of Status:
  • If you are going to stay in the U. S. for something other than work, it is better to apply for a change of status and get another visa category that may be suitable for you (e. g. , F-1 student visa and B-2 tourist visa.
  • Before your 60-day grace period expires, file the change of status application with USCIS.
Visa Type
Description
H-4 Dependent Visa
Spouses of H1B visa holders who are in the process of getting a green card can apply for this status.
O-1 Visa
This is meant for people with outstanding talent in their fields, such as sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
E-1 or E-2 Visa
For treaty traders or investors from countries with qualifying treaties with the U.S.
F-1 Student Visa (Most used)
Allows individuals to study full-time at an accredited U.S. academic institution.
B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa
Provides a temporary way to remain in the U.S.
 
Option 3 - Considering Relocation
  • If the mentioned choices are not available, H1B holders would have to think of moving out of the United States. Some possibilities include:
    1. Applying for U. S. remote positions that give you the chance to work from other countries is a good idea.
    2. If you're an H1B worker facing unfriendly immigration policies, consider seeking job opportunities in countries like Canada, which offers a pilot program for U.S. H-1B visa holders.
    3. Going back to your home country and working there while seeking for future opportunities in the U. S. (Possible to enter the US once again with a fresh F1 Visa)

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(Change your status to F/B status)

H1B Layoff

3. How Does an H1B Layoff Impact Your Green Card Journey?

During the green card filing period, if you are in the process of adjusting your status from an H-1B visa to lawful permanent residency, here are the different phases that will be impacted:

1. PERM Labor Certification

What it is: The primary stage of green card applications for employment is to find out if there are no U. S. workers who can do your job.

Impact of Layoff: If the employee is fired, this process comes to a halt. You will have to find a new job and employer if you want to start over, since the PERM is linked with the particular job and company.

2. I-140 Petition

Before Approval: If you are laid off before this approval and your employer withdraws the petition, you have to start all over again with a new employer.

After Approval: Gives a little bit of space. You can still change your job, but a new employer has to file another PERM and I-140. Nevertheless, you may maintain your position in the queue (priority date) for green card distribution.

3. I-485 Adjustment of Status

Impact of Layoff: If you have filed this and been laid off, the situation is not that bad if it has been over 180 days since filing. You may change your occupation without losing the green card if the new job is similar to your previous one.

Update USCIS on Changes:

๐Ÿšจ Inform USCIS of any changes in your employment, address, or personal situation while your adjustment of status application is pending.

 

4. Financial Management Post-Layoff

Severance Package and Benefits

A complete comprehension of your severance package and its advantages is the foundation for you to make a good decision after being laid off. Focus areas should include:

  • Severance Pay: Make sure that you are aware of the conditions, including any one-time payments or provisions for continuing the wages.
  • Healthcare: Look at the other options of keeping your health insurance by using COBRA for 18 months.
  • Unused PTO: Reword the question if there is any remuneration for the leftover time off that was not taken but was paid.
  • Stock Options: To know the present state and terms of stock options or equity grants.
  • Outplacement Services: To get new jobs, be sure to take advantage of all the career transition services that your company offers.

โ—๏ธStart Your 100% Free Change of Status Consultation!
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5. Personal Stories of Resilience

The recent tech layoffs have made many H1B visa holders confused and in a dilemma. Although the situation was tough, some people have still shared their stories of how they overcame and managed to get through this difficult time.

๐ŸŒŸ Check Out These Awesome Success Stories! ๐ŸŒŸ

Vishal Pallerla
  • Previous Employer: Anonymus
  • New Employer: DevZero
  • Time to Secure New Job: Within 60 days
 
Vishal Pallerla, a Developer Advocate, transitioned to DevZero after being laid off. He successfully navigated the job market and secured his new role within the 60-day grace period required for H-1B visa holdersโ€‹ (The International Advantage)โ€‹โ€‹ (Open Source 101)โ€‹. 
Shaunak Paranjape
  • Previous Employer: Anonymus
  • New Employer: LaBella Associates
  • Time to Secure New Job: Within 60 days
 
Shaunak Paranjape leveraged job portals and LinkedIn connections to secure multiple interviews and eventually a new job within the 60-day grace period after his previous employer closed downโ€‹ (The International Advantage)โ€‹.

 

6. Legal and Industry Reactions 

The latest H1B layoff has prompted reactions from legal experts and industry professionals, demonstrating the problems foreign workers face in the U.S. immigration system.

Employer Responsibilities and Transportation Costs Reimbursement

Employers are in certain obligations to their sponsored workers under the H1B program, even if there is a layoff. One of the duties is to reimburse the plane ticket if an H1B worker has been laid off before his/her authorized period ends.

Nevertheless, this duty is only held if the H1B worker leaves the United States. If the employee decides to stay in the country and look for a new job or change their visa status, then the employer does not have to pay these expenses.

The industry responses and the calls for reform.

The recent H1B layoffs have revived discussions about the necessity of reforming the U.S. immigration system, especially regarding foreign workers in the technology industry.

  1. Proponents claim that the existing system links H1B workers too closely to their employers, making them susceptible to layoffs.
  2. Others have suggested a simplified route to permanent residency for H1B workers, who will be less dependent on their employers.
  3. Some have also proposed raising the number of H1B visas available annually to accommodate the need for skilled foreign workers in the tech industry.

The industry is trying to solve the problem of H1B worker layoffs, and legal and policy changes may be needed to make the situation more stable for foreign talent in America.

โ—๏ธStart Your 100% Free Change of Status Consultation!
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7. FAQs

1. When does the 60-day grace period start?

The 60-day grace period starts immediately following the cessation of employment.

2. Does the h1b layoff require reporting to USCIS?

Yes, an H-1B layoff requires reporting to USCIS.

3. Can I transfer H-1B immediately after approval?

Of course, you can transfer your H-1B right after the approval. However, we advise you to wait for the first two months' pay stub before you do so.

4. How long is H-1B valid?

Total of 6 years followed by 3 initial years plus 3 years of extension. 

H1B Layoff New Jobs

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