I am in the U.S. on H-1B visa and my employment was terminated due to the Corona virus outbreak. Can I stay in the U.S. if I find a new job? How long do I have to find a new job?

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Covid-19 has changed the rules for travel, engagement and employment.  Many companies have started to reduce wages and put staff on leave, and some companies have terminated employees.

If you are currently in the U.S. on an H-1B visa and your employment was terminated, you will have a 60-day grace period during which you may lawfully remain in the U.S.

My I-94 expires before the 60-day grace period. When do I have to leave the U.S.?

The H-1B grace period lasts for up to 60 consecutive days, or until your I-94 expires. If your employment was terminated on April 6, 2020 and your I-94 expires on May 1, 2020, you will have to leave the U.S. by May 1, 2020 and you would not get the full 60-day grace period.

Can I look for a new job during the H-1B Grace Period?

Yes. You may look for a new job during the grace period. If you do not find a new job within the 60 days (or before your I-94 expires), you will have to leave the U.S.

I found a new employer. What does the employer have to do to sponsor me for an H-1B visa?

If you find a new employer who is willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, the employer will have to file a Labor Condition Application and Form I-129 to USCIS along with all supporting documentation demonstrating that you are eligible for the H-1B visa. While this type of petition is often called a “transfer” it is really a brand-new application.

USCIS suspended Premium Processing for I-129 applications, and this means it could take weeks or months for USCIS to adjudicate the H-1B petition.

When can I start working for the new employer? Do I have to wait until USCIS adjudicates the new H-1B petition?

You may start working for the new employer as soon as the employer files a non-frivolous petition, if the following requirements are met:

  1. You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. in H-1B status;
  2. A non-frivolous petition for a new employment was filed before your period of authorized stay expires (60 consecutive days after your employment was terminated or before your I-94 expires, whichever is shorter);
  3. You have not been employed without authorization since your lawful admission to the U.S. and before filing of the non-frivolous petition.

My employment was terminated but I did not find a new job within the 60-day grace period. Can I return to the U.S. and start working once a non-frivolous petition is filed with USCIS?

If your H-1B employment was terminated and you do not find a new employer who would file a new H-1B petition within the grace period (60 days from the date your employment terminated or your I-94 expiration date, whichever is shorter), you will have to leave the U.S. If you later find an employer in the U.S. who is willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, the employer will have to file a new H-1B petition. You will only be allowed to enter the U.S. and start working for the new employer once the H-1B petition has been approved by USCIS and after you get an H-1B visa at a Consulate abroad. It could take months for USCIS to adjudicate the petition and because many U.S. Consulates all over the world are currently not process non-immigrant visa applications due to the Corona virus outbreak, it could take some time for you to be able to schedule an interview at a Consulate.

Please click here if you want to read more how Covid-19 impacts your visa.

Please click here if you want to find out how Covid-19 impacts the obligations of an H-1B or E-3 employee.

You can find key immigration information related to the Corona Virus below.

You can set up a consultation by clicking the link below.

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