Imagine living in a different country for 10 years, buying a house and a car, having kids and then losing your job only to be told that you have 60 days to get your affairs in order and leave? But this would never happen, right? Wrong, this has been a reality for a lot of nonimmigrants, especially those living and working in the U.S. on an H-1B.
A recent news article reported a couple who had been working for Google for 11 years and woke up one morning to the realization that they had both been laid off. Because both were working on H-1Bs they had 60 days to either find a new employer, switch to another status or leave the country.
Whilst 60 days doesn’t sound like much, prior to January 2017 there was no grace period. What?! This meant someone here on a H-1B who was laid off was expected to leave the U.S. immediately. I recall having conversations with individuals and telling them that they needed to leave ASAP. They always asked if it was fine if they stayed for a couple of weeks to take care of their affairs and my response was always the same. Technically you need to leave immediately but a couple of weeks should not have any detrimental effect on your immigration future. I also made it clear that I was not giving them permission to stay for a couple of weeks and that my legal advice was to leave immediately.
Fast forward to 2023 and there have been massive tech layoffs, thousands of whom were facing the possibility of having to leave the U.S. in 60 days. Those individuals will not benefit from this change but future employees who get laid off will have the benefit of a significantly longer grace period.
Earlier this week the White House Asian American and Native Hispanic Pacific Islander Advisory committee approved a recommendation for a 180-day grace period. This recommendation will now go to the Commission Co-chairs US Secretary and US Ambassador. After their review this will end up with the President for his consideration who will then direct USCIS to implement the new change.
180 days will be a game changer and will allow individuals more time to find a new employer. Most individuals laid off just need more time to find a new employer and have that employer file an H-1B transfer. Accomplishing this in 60 days has always been incredibly challenging. This is yet another welcome change that will benefit thousands of foreign nationals in the years to come.
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