Post-Employment Options for Nonimmigrants

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued guidance for nonimmigrant workers facing termination of employment, whether voluntary or involuntary. Individuals in this situation may explore various options to stay in the United States within an authorized stay period, adhering to existing rules and regulations. 

60-Day Grace Period: The regulations allow a discretionary 60-day grace period for certain nonimmigrant workers (E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN classifications) and their dependents after the termination of employment. During this period, maintaining nonimmigrant status is possible if a new employer files a timely petition for an extension or if the worker files an application to change to a new nonimmigrant status. 

Portability to a New Employer: H-1B workers can begin working for a new employer once a new H-1B petition is properly filed, without waiting for approval. Adjustment of status applicants with a pending Form I-485 for at least 180 days can transfer the underlying immigrant visa petition to a new job offer in the same or similar occupational classification. 

Change of Status: Workers can use the discretionary grace period to apply for a change of nonimmigrant status, including becoming a dependent spouse (e.g., H-4, L-2). Certain dependent nonimmigrants may be eligible for employment authorization, and spouses of H-1B workers may qualify for work authorization under specific conditions. Other nonimmigrant options include student status (F-1) or visitor status (B-1 or B-2).  

Change of Status and Employer: Within the 60-day grace period, workers can seek new employer-sponsored nonimmigrant status, such as TN, E-3, or H-1B1 classifications. Filing a non-frivolous change of status application during this period prevents the accrual of unlawful presence until adjudication, but it does not confer immediate employment authorization. 

Adjustment of Status: Certain workers may be eligible to file a self-petitioned immigrant visa petition concurrently with an adjustment of status application. This applies to classifications like EB-1 Extraordinary Ability, EB-2 National Interest Waiver, or EB-5 Immigrant Investors. Individuals with pending adjustment applications can generally remain in the U.S. and obtain an Employment Authorization Document. 

It's important to note that timely filing of a non-frivolous application to change status will halt the accrual of unlawful presence until adjudication. Workers are encouraged to explore the options available based on their specific circumstances and consult USCIS resources for more information. 


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