The COVID-19 pandemic is not only responsible for taking hundreds of thousands of lives, but it is also responsible for putting millions of people out of work. While everyone depends on their job for income and benefits, many others are depending on their jobs to keep them in the U.S. legally. We are referring to those who are currently living in the U.S. on an H-1B visa.
When an individual is issued an H-1B visa, they are typically able to live and work in the U.S. for three years or even longer if they file a renewal. The key to maintaining status while present in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, however, is that a person must be working for a qualified H-1B employer. Unfortunately, because the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered businesses in Georgia and all across the U.S., many immigrants are now out of work, hence, they are not maintaining their status as required.
So, what happens to their status?
When an immigrant is not working for an employer who is qualified to employ H-1B visa holders, there are a few different options available that could allow them to remain in the U.S. legally. These include:
- Find a new job and have the new employer file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. This should be done as quickly as possible as you are only given a 60-day grace period after you have been laid off to get this done. After 60 days have passed and no action has been taken, you are no longer maintaining lawful status and risk being placed into removal proceedings.
- File a request to have your status changed. Consider speaking with an immigration attorney in Atlanta, GA who can determine if you qualify to apply for a different type of visa or if you are eligible to apply for an extension of stay.
Important: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says that U.S. employers are required to notify USCIS when there has been a change in the terms and conditions of the H-1B nonimmigrant’s employment, including if the individual has been laid off. This means you will either need to take action immediately to avoid being considered unlawfully present or prepare to return to your home country.
If you are an H-1B visa holder and were laid off, it’s time you contact an Atlanta, GA immigration lawyer.
If you wish to remain in the U.S. and/or have your family living with you as dependents, it is imperative that you contact Kuck | Baxter Immigration immediately. Once you lose your job, your family members also lose status and will have to return home if other arrangements are not made.
Kuck | Baxter Immigration can be reached at:
365 Northridge Road, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30350