Every year, eligible foreign nationals enter the United States to work. Depending on the applicant’s visa eligibility, skills, and background, the period of stay may be temporary or permanent.
What happens when a foreign national loses his or her job on a work visa in the United States? Keep reading to find out.
Understanding US Temporary Work Visas – An Introduction
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the US Department of State, and the US Department of Homeland Security work together to administer the admission of foreign workers into the world’s richest economy.
There are two categories of work visas available for non-US citizens – temporary employment visas and permanent employment-based visas.
Temporary work visas are nonimmigrant classifications, generally referred to by letter and number to designate the foreign worker’s classification. For example, H-2A visas apply to temporary agricultural workers, while H-2B visas apply to temporary nonagricultural workers.
What Happens If You Lose Your Job on a Work Visa US? – The Verdict
When USCIS grants a temporary work visa, the worker’s stay in the United States depends on specific conditions.
If a foreign national entered the United States under nonimmigrant classification with a temporary work visa, the ability to stay is contingent on the job offer by which the worker was admitted into the country. Any change or adjustment of employment may affect the worker’s ability to stay.
Certain non-immigrant workers who lose their jobs are entitled to a grace period. The US Department of Homeland Security provides a 60-day grace period for foreign workers in specific visa categories, which are:
- E-1 (Treaty Traders)
- E-2 (CNMI/Treaty Investors)
- E-3 (Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia)
- H-1B/ H-1B1 (Specialty Occupations and Fashion Models)
- L-1 (Intracompany Transferees)
- O-1 (Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement)
- TN NAFTA Professionals
This grace period also encompasses situations in which workers lose their jobs due to a layoff or restructuring. The government implemented the rule to permit visa holders to pursue new employment with stability and flexibility.
Before the rule was implemented in 2017, US federal government required visa holders and their dependents to leave the country immediately after being terminated.
Please note that the US federal government has the right to shorten the grace period or reject a worker’s request. Consult with an expert attorney to identify an adequate solution for your case.
What Happens If You Lose Your Job on a Work Visa US? – Employer Requirements
When a foreign worker under nonimmigrant classification is terminated, the US employer who sponsored the worker must meet a set of requirements related to the worker’s change of status.
The first step is to notify the worker before termination. The notice must be provided in writing, explaining why the worker is being terminated and showing that it is for a “bona fide reason.”
Employers must also inform USCIS of a “material change” associated with a petition submitted for a work visa. For example, if a US petitioner applying for an H-2A temporary agricultural visa no longer needs extra workers due to a change in weather conditions, he must request to revoke the petition.
If the foreign nationals cannot find new sponsorship or apply for an adjustment of status, the employer must cover all reasonable costs of transportation associated with the worker’s departure from the United States.