In recent months, some of the biggest tech companies in the United States have laid off thousands of employees. It has left many H-1B visa workers struggling to find new employment. Because of this, there is a possibility that hundreds of people who are currently in the U.S. on temporary work visas will have to leave if they are unable to find new sponsors for employment. Time is of great importance for foreign workers directly affected by the layoffs. H-1B visa holders have 60 days to change jobs or depart the country.
A final rule published in the Federal Register provides a few stipulations as well as a deferral period for H-1B employees looking for another job. Your 60-day grace period means that you are considered to be in valid status during this time. It starts the day the employee is let go, fired, or resigns from their position. The 60-day grace period usually begins on the date specified in the termination letter or last pay statement. During this time, you can generally only request a change of employer or change of status if you have a valid immigration status. Thus, the grace period rule gives you the right to change to another nonimmigrant status or find another employer who will sponsor you as an H-1B.
If you are an H-1B visa holder who has been affected by the recent layoffs, it is important to ensure you maintain lawful status. First, you must find an employer who is willing to hire you and file the I-129 form (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) or the employer or you may file another appropriate form such as form I-539 (Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status). So long the petition or application is received by USCIS prior to the 60 day period expiring, you are eligible to remain in the U.S. while USCIS adjudicates the case.
Overall, H-1B visas provide some protections, and the 60-day grace period provides a lifeline to workers affected by layoffs. However, you should be aware that USCIS is not required to accept the 60 day grace period, though they routinely do this for many workers.
If you need legal counsel or assistance with the H-1B visa, consult an experienced immigration lawyer through Direct U.S. Immigration to go through your specific circumstances.