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If my H1B transfer petition is denied, do I have a 60-day grace period to find a new employer?

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Non-immigrant workers on H1B status, like those in E, L, O, or TN status, are given a “grace period” for up to 60 days if their employment terminates earlier than what is contemplated in the validity date of their original petition.

During this “grace period,” the individual may make arrangements to leave the United States or to obtain another basis to which to change or extend status. For example, the individual may obtain a new H1B work arrangement and file a new petition, which will be an application to change and extend status based on a new employer.

Consider a situation where an applicant on H1B status is laid off, and is placed on a 60-day grace period. During this 60-day grace period, the applicant finds a new employer who is willing to file an H1B transfer petition for the employee. In this situation, the applicant is able to start working for the new employer as soon as the H1B transfer application with the new employer is properly filed.

But what if the H1B transfer petition is ultimately denied? Would the applicant benefit from a second 60-day grace period to find a different employer?

Unfortunately, in this case the applicant would not be able to benefit from a second 60-day grace period. This is because the 60-day grace period, according to the regulations, is allowed only once for each “authorized validity period.” The validity period refers to the period of approved stay connected to a particular petition, in this case would be tied to each employer arrangement. In order for the applicant to access an additional 60-day grace period, the applicant must have had the H1B petition approved and have been given a second “validity period” tied with the new employer.

On the other hand, if an applicant working on H1B for Employer A was terminated, was on grace period and timely applied for an H1B transfer with Employer B, and the petition for Employer B was ultimately approved, the applicant will benefit from another 60-day grace period if and when the employment relationship with Employer B is terminated early.  This is because the approval of the petition with Employer B creates a new “authorized validity period.”

The regulations around nonimmigrant workers, especially related to H1B visas, is complex and changing, so it is highly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney to be accurately informed of all options available to you on maintaining status.

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