Getting laid off can be stressful and scary for anyone involved, but especially for visa holders whose immigration status depends on their employer. If you are an H-1B visa holder, you are undoubtedly aware of the strict limitations you face. If you lose your job while on an H-1B visa, you are considered immediately “out of status” in the United States. This is because the H-1B visa category requires the visa holder to be actively employed in order to maintain lawful status.

When an employer lays off an employee, the employer is generally required to file a withdrawal of the original work visa petition with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (hereafter referred to as “USCIS”), which will alert government officials to the fact that the visa holder is now out of status. This does not mean that you will need to immediately leave the United States, or that you risk deportation right away. There is a 60-day grace period for work visa holders to find a new job before they have to leave the country. This 60-day window is typically counted from the last day you performed actual work, rather than the last time you were paid. Most immigrant workers who are laid off choose to remain in the country during this 60-day window while they seek other employment.


If you are a H-1B visa holder and have lost your job, don’t panic. There are some statistics to be aware of which might make you feel more hopeful. Labor trends indicate that in 2023, over 90% of laid-off H-1B visa holders were able to secure new work despite the strict limitations placed on these workers by USCIS. In fact, compared to native workers, immigrants found work 10 days faster, largely because with so much at stake, they were more likely to move to a different state for a new job. Flexibility in terms of location can help.


If you are an H-1B visa holder and have recently been laid off from your job, you need to be aware of several important things to help you navigate your situation effectively. An Attorney who specializes in H-1B visa regulations would be extremely useful. However, here is some advice that should be helpful:

  • Understand Your Employment Contract: Review your employment contract and any other relevant documents to understand your rights and obligations, any nondisclosure or noncompetition terms including severance pay, notice period, or any clauses related to termination.
  • Notify USCIS: If you are terminated from your H-1B position, your employer is required to notify USCIS about the termination. At that point, your H-1B status may be affected.
  • Grace Period: H-1B workers are typically granted a 60-day grace period after termination to find new employment or to make arrangements to leave the United States. During this grace period, you are still considered to be in lawful status and can explore other job opportunities.
  • Transfer To a New Employer:If you find a new job with another U.S. employer, they will need to file an H-1B transfer petition on your behalf. You can start working for the new employer once the petition is filed (you do not have to wait for an approval).
  • Return To Your Home Country:Although uncommon, some immigrant workers may choose to leave the U.S. soon after their employment ends. If you choose this path, be sure to speak with your company about travel and relocation expenses. If a sponsoring employer terminates an H-1B visa holder, the employer must offer to pay for a flight to allow them to return to their home country, or to their last country of residence.

If you are trying to stay in the United States, but are unable to find a new employer within the grace period, it’s essential to make arrangements to leave t