The journey to securing a visa to come into the U.S. and starting a new life here is undoubtedly arduous. It’s a long road and feels like a huge relief once it’s over. You can start your career in the U.S. and begin a path to prosperity for you and your family.
Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans don’t always go as we hoped. Job security isn’t guaranteed and employers can terminate employees just as employees can voluntarily leave their job to seek other opportunities. What’s important to know is that, depending on your visa, you won’t have to panic immediately.
Thankfully, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service generally no longer considers most visa holders to be in violation of their status the moment their employment ends. Grace periods that protect visa holders AFTER the termination of their employment have been in place since January 2017.
Eligible visa holders
It’s important to know if you’re eligible as certain visa holders are excluded from the 60-day grace period or are only eligible for shorter grace periods after the end of their employment. You’re only eligible to take advantage of the 60-day grace period once during each authorized period, meaning you can’t use it multiple times under one term of the same visa. The following nonimmigrant visas are provided with a 60-day grace period:
- E-1, E-2, E-3
- H-1B, H-1B1
While these nonimmigrant workers have a 60-day period, H-2B, H-3, and P nonimmigrants are not granted the 60-day grace period.
It’s also worth noting your 60-day period can be shortened if your I-94 or Form I-797 is already set to expire during the grace period. This means if your I-94 or Form I-797 expires 15 days after the date of your termination, you will only have 15 days to apply for an extension or change of status or depart the U.S., not the entire 60-day window.
Requirements during the grace period
Your status will remain valid during the grace period you’re eligible for, but you may not engage in any unauthorized employment. The period is meant to give you time to secure new authorized employment or make other arrangements to ensure you don’t end up in an ugly immigration or deportation fight with the government.
You must use the 60 days to do one of the following:
- Secure new, authorized employment in the U.S.
- Make a plan to leave the U.S. (prior to the end of the grace period)
- File for a change of status to a different visa classification
A failure to do any of those during the grace period will result in the revocation of your status and means you’re no longer eligible to stay in the United States. Securing new employment is a great way to maintain a long-term future here, but it’s important to verify what visa status your new employment is eligible for.
If you fail to secure employment or leave the U.S. within the 60-day period, you can file for a dependent visa if your spouse is in another visa classification and in status.
You should also know you cannot leave the U.S. during the grace period. If you depart the U.S., the grace period ends.
At Valvo & Associates, we are experts in U.S. business immigration law. We know the ins and outs of laws, requirements, and regulations that impact your ability to work and live freely in the United States. Don’t let your visa status falter. Work with our team today to make sure you’re within the boundaries of U.S. immigration law.