Layoffs due to the crisis: what to do to immigrants who are in the USA on a work visa
In April, unemployment in the United States jumped to 14,7%, the highest since the Great Depression. The April employment report shows that more than 20 million jobs were lost in one month. Of course, the sudden loss of work will make everyone worried, but this is especially fraught for foreign workers who are in the United States on an H-1B work visa. Writes about it Business Insider.
This is due to the fact that immigrants are required to indicate a formal reason for staying in the USA within 60 days from the date of dismissal. And she, this reason, should be among the list approved by the US government, otherwise a foreign worker will have to leave the country.
In a recent article, immigration policy analyst Jeremy Neufeld suggested that by the end of June, more than 200 foreign workers on H-000B visas could lose their legal status in the United States.
If you recently lost your job in the United States and are in the country under the H-1B program, take action.
1. Talk to an immigration attorney
The first thing an immigrant with an H-1B visa must do after being fired is to consult an immigration lawyer.
Journalists spoke with three experts: Carla Mackanders, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University; Lucas Guttentag, a professor of law at Stanford and Yale; Linda Rose is a practicing immigration attorney. Rose emphasized the importance of consulting with the right type of lawyer.
“We strongly recommend individual consultations with a knowledgeable lawyer,” she said. “Not all immigration lawyers practice working immigration.”
Suggested resource: American Immigrant Bar Association (AILA) Is an organization of lawyers and law professors who advise international students, workers, and asylum seekers, mostly for free.
2. Find a new employer
Another option for those recently fired is to find a new employer.
To continue working in the United States, individuals with an H-1B visa should find another employer willing to sponsor this visa.
Suggested resource: US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has employer data hub H-1B. Those looking for an H1-B sponsor can use this tool to find out which employers sponsored foreign workers for this visa program in 2009-2020.
3. Change the visa status for the allotted 60-day period
A change in your visa status means a formal change in the reason for your stay in the United States. This formal change must be approved by the U.S. government and must be done within a 60-day period that begins immediately after dismissal. In a pandemic in the United States, this is a difficult process.
“For someone in the United States who wants to change their visa status, it will be difficult to go through this process during a pandemic,” said Mccanders. “The law is complex and constantly changing.”
Begin the visa application process with an application to USCIS. After that, candidates go through several more stages, including fingerprinting, interviews, data verification, and sometimes requests for additional information.
Guttentag, the founder and director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrant Rights Project for nearly three decades, said that under normal circumstances, the duration of the visa status cycle varies from three to 12 months.
On March 18, USCIS suspended all personal interviews. Offices are scheduled to open on June 4, and it is recommended that you fill out online applications to submit forms.
3a. Please note: an alternative category of visas includes guest or student
There are several categories of visas that immigrants who have lost their jobs can legally apply for.
The first option is Visa B-1 / B-2, guest. B-1 visas are intended for those who visit the United States for business purposes. B-2 visas are for tourists.
Another option for foreign workers is to try to apply for student visa (F-1). However, time is crucial here.
The U.S. Department of State recommends applying for an F-1 visa as early as possible, as the waiting time for interviews varies depending on your location, and due to the pandemic, all interviews are suspended until June 4.
4. Apply for a spousal support visa
A spousal support visa allows an immigrant to continue to work in the United States as long as his spouse remains at work in the country. Thus, you will have legal status in the United States as long as your (a) spouse has it. But this, of course, is not suitable for everyone.
Suggested resource: Государственный департамент США provides an overview of spousal support visas, including information on who is eligible for such a visa and how to apply.
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