What Businesses Need to Know About the H-1B 60-Day Grace

H1B work visa

In anticipation of an economic downturn, tech companies throughout the United States are laying off thousands of employees. Although these heavy hitters are ejecting overhead costs to maintain viability and dominance in their respective sectors of the industry, many startup entrepreneurs are looking upward with ambition to rival – or even unseat – these tech behemoths.

What startup business owners might see is prized talent falling into their laps.

H-1B Visa Workers & the 60-Day Grace Period

Among the workers who big-tech companies have laid off are many talented H-1B visa workers. These are foreign-born workers who live and work in the U.S. on non-immigrant H-1B visas sponsored by their previous employers.

Now that they are separated from their previous employers, however, they are subject to a grace period of 60 days, during which they retain legal status to seek reemployment. If you are a startup business owner looking to scoop up experienced talent that may have just been employed by a leader in your industry, it can pay off to learn more about this 60-day grace period.

When Does the 60-Day Grace Period Start?

Officially, the 60-day grace period starts from the date an H-1B employee last worked for their previous employer. This is the safest way to estimate how long you have to file your petition to sponsor an H-1B candidate you intend to hire.

Although you may have heard that USCIS starts the grace period from the date of the H-1B worker’s last severance payment, this isn’t always the case. USCIS may be flexible when it comes to interpreting its own policies, but as a startup owner, you should err on the most conservative interpretation to save time and money.

Keep in mind, however, that an H-1B worker’s I-94 expiration date takes priority over the grace period. If an I-94 expires within the 60-day grace period, this shortens the amount of time the H-1B worker has to find a new employer.

What Does the H-1B Grace Period Mean for Employers?

Employers seeking to sponsor a laid-off H-1B worker must file an H-1B transfer petition within the 60-day grace period or before the worker’s I-94 expires, whichever comes first.

If an employer fails to do so, the worker is considered out of status and must leave the U.S. The employer can still file an H-1B petition to sponsor the employee, but this extends the effort and wait for the worker to return to the U.S. and begin working.

This is why it’s essential for employers to know when an H-1B candidate was laid off from their previous employer. Completing all of the required paperwork well within the grace period can avoid unnecessary delays.

Contact an Immigration Lawyer for Assistance

Many immigrant employees working in tech may have recently lost their jobs, and your business can benefit from these new pools of talent. Working closely with an immigration attorney can reduce the risk of delay and unnecessary expenses when an employer wishes to apply for an H-1B transfer.

The Law Office of Zhang can help. To learn how, contact us online today.