If you came to the United States on an H-1B visa, you will likely fear for your status if your employer terminates you. Millions of people have lost their jobs during the current recession. Yet, unlike many, your ability to remain in the country depends on your employment.

Nonimmigrant workers have a 60-day grace period to find a new employer after getting laid off. By understanding how this period works, you can take the necessary steps to protect your status.

What the grace period allows

For years, as a nonimmigrant worker with an H-1B or similar visa, you would have lost your status upon losing your employment. Yet, a final rule enacted in January 2017 gives you 60 days to find an employer to sponsor your visa so you can remain in the country. During this period, you can either search for employment or apply for a change in status. You will not have the authorization to work for a new employer. If you find new employment during your grace period, though, you can begin your position once your employer files a transfer petition.

What the grace period limits

The 60-day grace period does not apply to all H-1B visa holders. Likely, you will qualify for it. Yet, you may be refused this period if you have:

  • Received a conviction for criminal charges
  • Accrued unlawful presence
  • Engaged in unauthorized employment
  • Committed fraud

Your grace period may shorten if your validity period ends less than 60 days after your date of termination. Yet, each new validity period allows for an additional 60-day grace period. Your grace periods, though, cannot carry over from one validity period to the next.

The limitations of the 60-day grace period may seem stringent. Yet, it provides nonimmigrant workers an opportunity to remain in the United States that they did not have before. If you need to protect your status after losing your job, an attorney can help you consider your options for moving forward.