Answers for H-1B Workers Who Have Been Laid Off (or Think They Might Be) • TechCrunch

According to/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>layoffs.fyi, more than 23,000 tech workers have been laid off so far this month. For comparison, the site recorded 12,463 layoffs in October.

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, this week announced the first major job cuts in its history, eliminating 11,000 jobs. Like Twitter, Stripe, Brex, Lyft, Netflix and other Bay Area-based tech companies, many of the affected employees are immigrants on work visas.

An unexpected layoff introduces an element of chaos into anyone’s life, but when an H-1B worker loses his job, a loud clock starts ticking: unless he can get a new position or change his immigration status within 60 days, you must go. the country.

And with tech companies of all sizes freezing hiring and planning more cuts, your ability to live and work in the US is suddenly in question.

Earlier today, I hosted a Q&A for foreign tech workers who have been laid off (or think they might be) with Silicon Valley-based immigration attorney Sophie Alcorn.

Alcorn, who writes “Dear Sophie,” a weekly advice column for TechCrunch+, shared general information for visa workers and hiring managers looking for talent. If he’s a visa holder and he’s been laid off, his first priority is “to find a lawyer and calculate his last day of employment, because that’s when the 60-day grace period should start counting,” Alcorn said.

“Either you get a new job, you leave, or you find some other way to stay in the United States legally, but you have to take some action within those 60 days.” Start looking for new opportunities now, she advised, since it will take time for a new employer to submit paperwork to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“The best case scenario would be for this new company to file their new employer change petition and USCIS receive the paperwork on or before the 59th day from their last day of employment,” Alcorn said.

“It takes at least three weeks to get everything ready,” meaning candidates and employers need to act quickly as the countdown ticks down. “You probably need a signed offer around the 33rd,” he said.

Based on his experience, Alcorn estimated that 15% of people laid off from Bay Area startups are immigrants, 90% of whom are H-1B holders. Below you will find answers to many of the questions we receive [edited for space and clarity].

I was made redundant while abroad, but my lawyer advised me to travel back with ESTA, which I did. Does the 60-day grace period still apply?

Sophie Alcorn: If you are in the United States with ESTA after being laid off while abroad, you no longer have H-1B status. She must leave the country to obtain a new H-1B and attempt to return and begin work.

You no longer have the 60-day grace period; you have abandoned it. The only thing you can do to change or extend your status if you are in the United States on the 90-day Visa Waiver Program on ESTA is to marry a US citizen and have them sponsor you for a green card.

It has to be a real and bona fide marriage. You have to have the intention of sharing a life together, you have to show that your families know each other, that you do romantic comedy things together and you have the photos to prove it. And the government is going to check in two years to see if you’re still married.

I am currently on an OPT and have an approved, but not activated, H-1B. Can I change employers without going through the lottery right away? Or would my H-1B have to be activated first?

In fact, you can change employers without [doing so]. When you’re in a job interview, you need to make it very clear to the human resources person that you think you’re eligible for an H-1B change of employer, and you really need your immigration attorneys to watch you closely, because essentially, what What you will need is a change of status from F-1 or OPT to H-1B within the United States, as well as a change of employer.

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