It is a double whammy for laid off H-1B employees, as the clock is ticking | India News

MUMBAI: Mass layoffs at Twitter and also other companies such as Stripe have led erstwhile employees to flock to social media in droves to express gratitude for an awesome working experience and also to job hunt.
Stringent immigration policies have resulted in H-1B employees making fervent appeals for a new job, as the clock is ticking.
A data software engineer, based in San Francisco, has posted on LinkedIn, excerpts of are below: “This is not easy to write, but here we go. I was amongst 50% of the employees affected due to layoffs at Twitter…I am actively looking for new opportunities in the ‘Data and Analytics domain’….Layoff comes with a deadline for employees like me on an H-1B visa, and I have around 60-days to find a new role in the US.” Similar posts are found across social media, including ironically on Twitter.
Once laid off, an H-1B visa holder has a 60-day grace period, within which to obtain another US job (under an H-1B transfer process, where the new employer does the sponsorship and relevant paperwork), or else he or she has deport from the US.
Robert Webber, US immigration attorney, offers some guidance to those laid off, “If you do not have an H-1B transfer job offer lined up, after about 45-days, you could start the preparation for filing an I-539 application to change status from H-1B to B-2 to ‘buy time’ to transition out of the US. You will not have authorization to work on this visa, so this option is based on the assumption that you can support yourself during this period on your savings.”
The B-2 visa is a visitor visa and the maximum stay is six months, but a few months extension is possible. A laid-off employee was toying with the idea of enrolling at a university for further studies, but found that the fall semester began in August and enrollment for the next semester will be beyond the 60-day grace period.
In the midst of its layoff process, Stripe has shown some empathy towards its immigrant workers. CEO Patrick Collison, in his note to employees’ states: “We know that this situation is particularly tough, if you’re a visa holder. We have extensive dedicated support linked up for those of you here on visas…We will be supporting transitions to non-employment visas wherever we can.”
Webber points out that some companies could be paying their laid off employees for a month or two more (post the lay-off date). “Even in such a scenario, it is safer to compute the 60-day grace period from the date of the lay-off and not the last day you are paid,” he states.
Those who were in a queue for a green-card especially backlogged Indians will face varied challenging situations, for some it could mean starting the process all over again.

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