Thousands of foreign workers on skilled-worker visas, such as H-1Bs, have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) economic crisis, and now face the prospect of deportation. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has asked United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the current 60 day grace period, giving H-1B holders at least 90 days to find new employment.
Chicago immigration lawyer Mario Godoy said it’s important that laid-off H-1B visa workers maintain lawful status,
“If USCIS finds that you are “unlawfully present” in the United States, you could face harsh legal consequences including deportation and being banned from re-entry to the U.S. Workers who lose job-dependent work visas have 3 options:
1. Get another job and H-1B employer to sponsor you
2. Change to another status
3. Willingly depart from the United States”
H-4 Dependent Visa
H-1B workers who are married to an American citizen or legal resident may be able to change to H-4 visa status and apply to work as an H-4. The H-4 is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa for spouses and unmarried children. H-4 dependents can apply for an extension to remain in the United States with their spouse.
F-1 Student Status
H-1B workers may qualify for a F-1 student visa to pursue a higher degree in a full-time academic program.
B-2 Tourist Visa
Before your H-1B visa expires, you may apply for B-2 business tourist status to remain in the U.S. temporarily while you search for a new job.
E-5 Investor Visa
The EB-5 immigrant investor visa offers priority processing of a permanent resident status with no work requirement and is an exemption to the 60-day immigration suspension. The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to invest in United States businesses under the following qualifications:
• invest $1.8 million for standard investments and from $500,000 to $1 million for investments in a targeted employment area (TEA)
• create or preserve 10 full-time jobs for qualified United States workers within 2 years
H-1B visa holders who lose their job and are not able to find another job or change status to legally remain in the United States should willingly depart from the U.S. so they do not jeopardize their opportunity to legally return to America in the future.
Contact the experienced immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Illinois at 855-554-6369 to answer your questions about immigration status and help you explore your options to maintain legal status in the United States.