If you’re an immigrant working in the United States on an H-1B visa, now is a great time to think about your “Plan B”! The good news is that you can protect yourself in case of a laid-off by bridging your status with a concurrent H-1B.
Estimates are that over 30k thousand tech workers have been laid off this year at companies like Tesla, Netflix, Coinbase, Robinhood, Twilio, and the MANGAs. In the technology industry, brilliant immigrant engineers are overrepresented, with many held in perpetual H-1B visas from India and China.
People who have worked hard paid their taxes, bought homes, and raised their families in the United States for decades may face significant difficulties as a result of this.
It is essential to review your immigration system in light of the following factors before making the leap and joining the new company:
- What is my current status in the United States, and when will it end?
- Also, what visas do I hold that are still valid, and when do they expire?
- What are my requirements for international travel? Can I stay in the United States for the time being given the backlog at consulates?
- Where am I at in the green card process – Do I require a PERM, and has it been filed? Have you filed the I-140? What is my priority date, and do I have one? What dates should I expect to receive an I-485?
How to protect my H-1B and green card if I am laid off?
Most of these are legal questions that necessitate the collection of important documents as proof of your status, rights, and benefits. To learn about your options and rights, you might also need to talk to an independent immigration lawyer.
Consider obtaining a “concurrent H-1B” at a second company in the future if you decide to move to a new company. I often talk about concurrent H-1Bs in terms of getting an H-1B if you didn’t win the annual lottery, but this idea can also be used in other ways.
One method is to get an offer for a second, part-time job to work at another company. If you want to do this, consider consulting with an experienced employment attorney to make sure you’re not violating any promises you made by accepting your offer or signing your confidentiality agreement with your first H-1B employer. Some companies have rules and committees that decide if current employees are allowed to found startups on the side.
Layoff for H-1B Techies
Because their immigration lawyer will be required to check the appropriate boxes in the concurrent H-1B petition, the second company will need to know about your other full-time job if this route is taken. You should also ensure that the terms and conditions of accepting that second job are legitimate.
Second, the concurrent H-1B can be set up for a wide range of weekly hours. It can be salaried or hourly.
The benefit of having a second, concurrent H-1B in place is that if you are laid off by the first job with the primary H-1B, instead of only being relegated to the 60-day grace period, your second concurrent part-time H-1B will still be in effect, and you’ll be maintaining valid status in the U.S. while you either look for another job or work out the details with the second company to increase your hours to full time.
Other ways the second current H-1B can come up in your immigration paperwork down the road are that you would have to list that on subsequent I-129 petitions if it’s denied. Also, the I-485 Adjustment of Status application requires your full employment history. Usually, the law firm for the employer sponsoring the green card completes this document for you when you get to that stage.
If you are laid off, getting a second, concurrent, part-time H-1B is a great way to avoid having to leave the United States. More people should think about it!