Home / News / World /  What should H1B visa holders do to stay back amid mass layoffs under Elon Musk? Expert explains
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Following the Twitter layoff on Friday, the future of H1B visa holders is in limbo. In the next 60 days, they either have to find another company to sponsor their visas or leave the country. Forbes has cited that around 600 to 700 people who were working at Twitter were H1B visa holders, which is roughly around 8% to 10% of the total workforce. Though it is not exactly clear how many in this category have actually been handed the pink slip, the assumption is it's a significant chunk.

Twitter is buzzing with the thought. Some people have pointed out “Many of these folks may have had a Green Card application pending through Twitter's sponsorship" and if they can't find a job in 60 days then they have to start from scratch again. Others said, considering December is mostly a holiday month ‘they actually have a shorter time span to find another company to sponsor their visa.’

Amid such threats, many are still confused about the grace period to be considered and how to stay in the country in case they don't find another sponsor. Let's delve deeper to find answers to these questions.

What is the grace period the H1B visa holders get after being laid off?

Answering this, immigration lawyer Robert Webber says on Linkedin, if you are laid off today, and your employer says you are being paid through Jan 4, 2023 (as a hypothetical), then you might have a question as to how long your H-1B grace period is.

-- In my view, the safest thing is to assume your grace period is 60 days from today (the day you were laid off) but you could try to make an argument, if necessary, that your grace period is 60 days beyond your last day you are paid on Jan 4. But I think it is a best practice to seek an H-1B change of employer filing before 60 days from today.

Should one consider leaving the US during this period?

I would NOT leave the US and re-enter while no longer working for the employer even if you are getting paid. I think that is pretty risky. If you absolutely have to leave the US, then I would stay abroad and try to get a new job from abroad and have the H-1B change of employer petition filed for consular processing and then re-enter the US only after the new employer's H-1B petition is approved. Then you can re-enter the US carrying the new employer's I-797 (H-1B approval) with your existing, prior employer's visa, or seek a new visa based on the new employer's approval notice.

What are the other options to stay back in the country in case H1B visa holder does not find another sponsor?

If you don't have an H-1B transfer job offer lined up after about 45 days, I would consider getting an I-539 application prepared to file an I-539 application to change status from H-1B to B-2 to "buy time" to transition out of the US. You can ask for 6 more months. You won't have authorization to work so this is based on the assumption you can support yourself based on your savings.

Twitter on Friday fired roughly half of its 7,500-strong workforce. Its new owner Elon Musk insisted that the layoffs were necessary as the company was losing more than $4 million per day.

Twitter has long struggled to generate profit and has failed to keep pace with Facebook, Instagram and TikTok in gaining new users.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sanchari Ghosh

Sanchari Ghosh is a Deputy Chief Content Producer with LiveMint. She covers news, human interest, epidemiology and personal finance stories
Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
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