A job opportunity is often how people legally enter the United States. Many companies have difficulty hiring the best workers domestically, especially when there are shortages of qualified candidates within a specific industry. These companies may then consider hiring foreign nationals or arranging for foreign workers to transfer to work within the United States.
Someone with an advanced degree or years of experience in a particular profession can qualify for a specialty work visa. With support from an employer, they can legally move to and work in the United States. Accepting a job in the United States can lead people to many different opportunities that could help them stay in the country permanently.
Unfortunately, their lawful ability to remain in the United States depends entirely on maintaining their jobs. Even those in careers where employers struggle to find help can sometimes lose their jobs after emigrating through work opportunities. A layoff or firing will negatively affect someone with a work visa. Will they face immediate removal from the United States after losing their job?
There is a grace period for nonimmigrants
The good news for a nonimmigrant who just lost their job is that their immigration status is not immediately at risk. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a policy that addresses situation. Those with certain work visas, including H-1B, H-1B1, TN, L-1, O-1, E-1, E-2 and E-3, can continue to live in the United States for 60 days after losing a job.
If they secure a new job opportunity within those 60 days, they can likely avoid having to leave from the country. Often, those who qualify for employment visas work in fields with more domestic demand than supply of workers. Their new employer will need to file an extension of stay request, but they can potentially transition to a new job without having to leave the U.S. to apply for a new visa.
Additionally, they may be able to apply for other immigration opportunities, including adjusting their status or pursuing family-based immigration programs. Prompt communication with a competent attorney and a diligent job search can make a major difference for someone with a work visa who has lost their job.