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US Releases New Guidelines for Laid-Off H-1B Visa Holders

Amidst the recent wave of layoffs by major corporations like Google, Tesla, and Walmart, affecting scores of immigrant workers holding H-1B visas, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has rolled out new guidelines tailored to offer support and guidance to those who have been terminated from their jobs.

The USCIS directive, unveiled in New Delhi, presents a roadmap for H-1B visa holders facing job loss, outlining several avenues to navigate their immigration status and potential stay extensions. With the termination of employment, individuals are often confronted with uncertainties regarding their legal status and future prospects in the United States.

Key among the options delineated in the USCIS guidelines is the opportunity for H-1B visa holders to seek a change of nonimmigrant status within the 60-day grace period following job termination. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to explore avenues such as filing an adjustment of status application or applying for "compelling circumstances" under which they may qualify for a one-year Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

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Furthermore, the guidelines shed light on the concept of portability, which facilitates a seamless transition for eligible H-1B nonimmigrants to new employment opportunities. This mechanism enables individuals to commence work with a new employer upon the filing of a nonfrivolous H-1B petition, without having to wait for its approval.

Moreover, USCIS emphasizes the importance of timely action for those eligible to apply for immigrant visas through self-petitioning, allowing them to submit petitions concurrently with their adjustment of status applications. During the processing period, applicants are eligible to stay in the US and obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), offering a degree of stability amidst the transitional phase.

In cases where individuals hold immigrant visa petitions based on employment but encounter significant challenges, USCIS extends the provision for a one-year EAD to mitigate hardships. This provision aims to provide temporary relief and support to individuals navigating the complexities of employment-based immigration.

The USCIS guidelines underscore the agency's commitment to facilitating a smooth transition for H-1B visa holders grappling with job loss, offering clarity and actionable pathways to navigate the evolving landscape of immigration regulations and policies.

May 15, 2024 3:12 p.m. 5394

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