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I am on an L-1 visa and my employment was terminated because of Corona virus/COVID-19. What are my options? Do I have to depart the U.S. right away?

By April 16, 2020March 29th, 2021COVID-19

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 in the U.S. on an L-1 visa and you have been terminated, the first thing you should do is check your I-94. Your I-94 may be available online, or if you entered the U.S. and changed or extended your status, your I-94 may be available on your most recent I-797A. If your I-94 is valid for 60 days or longer, you are permitted to stay in the U.S. for the entirety of the 60-day grace period. If your I-94 is valid for less than 60 days, your grace period will only last until the end date on the I-94, as opposed to the full 60-day period.

Since January 2017, certain nonimmigrant categories, including L-1s, are granted a 60-day grace period if their employment ends earlier than expected. It does not matter under what circumstances the employment ended, meaning the grace period is available to people who quit their jobs and also to people who are terminated. During this 60-day period, you are permitted to look for other work, change status or make plans to depart the U.S. You are not permitted to work during the grace period.

If you find another employer and you are eligible for another employment visa, your new employer can file a petition to change your status. However, since March 20, 2020, the government is not providing premium processing services for I-129 petitions and the Consulates abroad are closed for nonimmigrant visa processing due to concerns over COVID-19, so it may be several months before you can commence working again, although you will be permitted to remain in the U.S. in a period of authorized stay for as long as the change of status petition is pending.

If you are not able to find a new employer and you do not want to depart the U.S. at the end of the 60-day grace period, you may be able to switch to another temporary status. For example, if you would like to remain in the U.S. as a tourist, you could change to B-2 status, if you want to go back to school you could switch to F-1 status or if you had some business purpose to remain, such as investigating E-2 opportunities, you could switch to B-1, business visitor status. It is very important to file any change of status request prior to the end of your grace period.

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

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