After all the hassle of applying and obtaining an H-1B visa to work in the United States, there is always a possibility that a foreigner could lose their job that their immigration status is heavily dependent upon. Losing a job can be due to the company that sponsored them getting a visa going through a layoff season, or the contract ends, or even termination of employment.
Unless you have a written employment contract, the laws in the U.S. generally considers H-1B and other employment to be “At Will”, meaning that any employer has the right to end employment for legal reasons at any specific time.
Nevertheless, you also have the right to be treated like any U.S. citizen employee pertaining to the company’s employment termination procedures. For instance, if the company offers severance packages to its employees, you are deserving of such benefits.
Immigration Ramifications When Losing H-1B Employment
The H-1B Visa Category is accessible to foreign nationals coming to work in the U.S. for a short timeframe to perform services for U.S. employers. While there are several advantages to having an H-1B status, one major disadvantage is that your lawful immigration status is based on, and dependent upon your employment status.
Anyone that has been relieved from their job roles has a maximum of a 60 day grace period in which to seek another employer to sponsor another H-1B visa application, or pursue another visa status to permit them to stay in the U.S or even make plans to return to one’s home country.
When Are You Supposed to Return to Your Home Country
Once your employment has ended, if there are no intentions to change one’s immigration status in the U.S., you must leave the country before the 60 day grace period ends. According to the U.S. immigration regulation 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E), all H-1B employers are required to pay the reasonable costs of transporting H-1B workers to their last country of residence overseas upon termination of their employment. An employer is not obligated to pay the transportation fees of H-4 dependents, specifically spouses and children who arrived in the U.S. with you.
The Difficulty with Accumulating Unlawful Presence in the U.S.
No matter the reason for termination, that employer is lawfully compelled to inform USCIS that you are no longer employed with them.
At that particular time, USCIS will cancel your H-1B approval. Once you are still in the U.S. and you have not started another H-1B employer or immigration status, you could then become unlawfully present in the U.S. If more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the U.S. have passed but less than 365 days, you will be barred from returning to the U.S. for 3 years. If more than 365 days have been accumulated then you will be barred for 10 years from entering the U.S.
Tip to Remain With Status After Losing H-1B Employment
There are several ways in which you can maintain your lawful status even after you have lost your H-1B employment status. If you are losing your job for reasons that have nothing to do with your performance your employer will notify you way ahead of time. After getting notified you should immediately start looking for a new working position.
Can an Immigration Attorney Help With An H-1B Application?
Whether you are planning on applying for an H-1B visa or you may have lost employability while under an H-1B status visit a legal representative that specializes in U.S. immigration laws. Call Gambacorta Law Office at 847 443 9303 for advice. Our team will see how best we can help you.