What Big Tech Layoffs Can Mean for H-1B Visa Workers

employees at tech company

In what many are speculating is a preemptive measure to stave off expected hardship from a looming recession, many big tech companies the likes of Netflix, Shopify, Peloton, Microsoft, and Meta are ejecting hundreds and even thousands of workers.

It’s no secret that many of these companies hire talent from abroad in their bids to be the best at what they do. Unfortunately, that means many H-1B visa holders may get caught up amid the latest tech downturn. Keep reading to learn more about what the latest trend of big tech layoffs can mean for you.

What Happens When You’re Laid Off with an H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa requires you to work and be paid according to your employer-sponsor’s petition. Maintaining your status means continuing to work for the employer sponsoring you, and losing your job by any means can put your lawful presence in the U.S. at risk.

If you lose your job as an H-1B visa holder, you have a maximum of 60 days from the date you were laid off to arrange for another employer to sponsor your H-1B visa or change your status. If you are unable to do so within this grace period, you must leave the country. If you stay in the U.S. on your expired H-1B visa, you may be deported and unable to reenter the country for at least five years.

You Must Actively Look for a Job

If you are in the U.S. because of an H-1B visa, you can only be unemployed for a maximum of 60 days. During this time, you must actively search for jobs and be ready to prove that you’ve submitted applications, reached out to prospective employers about career opportunities, or have been to job interviews.

If you are diligent about your job search, you can benefit from the full 60 days of the grace period, which can give your new employer enough time to submit its H1-B petition while you’re still in the U.S.

What Happens If My New Employer Can’t File the Petition in Time?

If you’re approaching the 60-day deadline and it doesn’t look like your new employer will file their petition in time, or you’ve yet to find a new employer, you might need to leave the U.S.

If you have a new employer, they should still file the H-1B petition to sponsor you, and you’ll need to go to a U.S. consulate abroad to get a new H-1B visa that’s based on this new petition.

You Can Change to Dependent H-4 Status

If you are married and your spouse is also working in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, you can change your status from H1-B to H4 if you are laid off from your tech job. This allows you to lawfully live and work in the U.S. as long as your spouse maintains their H-1B status, potentially giving you a lot more time to find a new job than the 60-day grace period.

You Can Apply to College or University

Another way to lawfully remain in the U.S. after you were laid off from your H-1B visa job is to apply to a college or university. Depending on the time of year and your unique situation, you may be able to change your status to F-1 Student to pursue a higher degree as a full-time student.

Can I Apply for a Tourist Visa to Stay in the U.S.?

You shouldn’t do this without first consulting with an immigration lawyer. Although some may have successfully lengthened their stay in the U.S. to find a new job by obtaining a B-2 tourist visa, doing so is ill-advised.

This is because the purpose of this visa is to cater to those seeking leisure, not employment. USCIS may interpret your real purpose for filing a tourist visa application as a demonstration of bad faith and revoke it, along with your chances of successfully getting another H-1B visa.

Who Can Help Me with H-1B Visa Legal Matters?

If you were recently laid off from your job or fear you may soon lose it, immediately contact The Law Office of Zhang for legal assistance. Our immigration lawyer has the experience and knowledge necessary to help you protect your lawful presence in the U.S. and reach the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Learn more about how we can help during an initial consultation. Contact us online for more information.