Laid Off on an E3 or H1B Visa

Unfortunately it is the story of the day, the month and hey the year. We just find out today that a record almost 600,000 jobs were lost in the US in January alone. The current unemployment rate is now 7.6%. Many of those included foreigners on US working visas and the road is mcuh tougher for all of us in this category. 🙁

The two major problems that foreigners on working visas face compared to a fellow US citizen or resident who may have been laid off is;

  1. No access to Social Security Benefits or any sort of unemployment support or safety net
  2. Extremely Limited to time to find new employment and change visa legally without having to leave the US

Essentially this means if you are in this unfortunate predicament you have to bear all the costs from any savings you have of your regular expenses and finding a new position while trying to do it in record time and fit in with the regulations.

In actuality as you only are allowed to be out of employment legally for 10 days, you really don’t have any time to find a new position and transfer your position if, as most lay-offs are, sudden and unexpected.

Now many employers are very understanding in these situations given in an ideal world they never wanted to let you go having gone through so much for sponsorship to get you in the first place, that officially they will keep your position open even if you are not in it, allowing you time to find a new role and thus technically not be out of work for more than 10 days. They don’t have to do this but many do so request this if you can to buy you time.

There is no advice I really have in terms of finding a position than what you already did to get your initial role. If you were smart and dedicated enough to find a position in the US to begin with, I have no doubt, given the time and financial ability, you will find a position again even in this economy. There are positions out there…you only have to look at major job sites.

Hey even despite the gloomy numbers of January employment loss in the US, the health industry recorded an increase in positions so choose your target area wisely.

As for the situation of financially supporting yourself through this ordeal, paying your rent, etc. Well this is a decision you will have to make as it really depends how much you have, who you have to support and what your and the size of your obligations are. Like Americans it is probably a good time to live below your means for a while, save a little more. Your other problem is the US Dollar is getting stronger meaning transferring money over here from abroad buys you less.

I am sorry unlike other posts I didn’t have more advice for you but I wanted to at least address the current situation so you know the basic facts of what you can and can’t do and the basic tip about the employer holding your role open while you search.

I feel for you if you are in this situation and wish you well and a speedy find to continue your adventure…..


EDIT: There is one other option I recently was made aware of if you want to remain in North America but not specifically the US. The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program for Canada is seeming to take more and more people in who had been laid off on a H1B or E3 visa. You don’t need a job offer or sponsor to get this visa as you can loof for work after entering if you are in this broad range of job categories. I am certainly no expert on it but hear it could be a good option and a fast track to permanent residency in Canada.

43 thoughts on “Laid Off on an E3 or H1B Visa

  1. Hi there, I’ve been in a new job for my 4th week and have been subjected to bullying and harrassment every day. I want to resign given I’m told this is not going to change and a common theme in this organisation. I know if I resign or am fired that I have 10 days to get another job. Almost impossible but possible having come so far. Is there any advice out there on employer legalities and their responsibilities hiring non immigrants? I bet there is??

  2. Hi E3 Issue,
    Am sorry to hear about your situation. There are both Federal and State based employment standards and it sounds like a clear violation and they apply to all employees a company may hire. The problem lies in terms of the timing of you taking action. if you do manage to get employment somewhere else that would be great, then maybe that would give you time to take some form of action against your current employer. Remember the 10 days relates to the maximum amount of working days you can be without a job so you really need to start your other job which in practical terms give you so little time unless you begin a lot of the process while still at your current employer. I wish you weel and am sorry again to hear about your current situation as it really sucks the situation foreigners can sometimes find themselves in.

  3. Thanks. I was actually fired that night…over the phone and without reasonable grounds. Fortunately I have a new job offer (within 24 hours) but I still would love to know they were wrong in firing a non immigrant just so easily. I’m waiting for a response from the Dept of Labor on that one.

    Welcome to America!

  4. Hi e3visa,

    You’re blog is fantastic!

    Apologies in advance for the long explanation below.

    I need your advise on my current situation. I was for 10+ years in a global organization in Sydney and they offered me a job within the same organization in USA which I accepted 21 months ago. Moved with my wife and daughters on the E3 visa. Had a great time. Unfortunately, I was laid off 5 months ago and decided to stay until my daughters complete their school year as they have already interrupted their studies when we moved to USA. Fortunately enough I received a job offer today in which they will sponsor me for a new E3. Got a couple of questions in which I wil greatly appreciate your advice:

    1 – When left my former employer I was advised by their attorney that I could legally stay in USA until my E3 visa expiration date. Is this correct?

    2 – For the new E3 application. Do I need to go back to Sydney with my family for the interview or could I go to other countries i.e Canada?

    3 – Despite been unemployed for 5 months. Do you believe or heard of situations where there might be a risk in not getting the visa?

    4 – Lastly, the current job offer is with a reputable organization, but in a different field and of lower professional grade than my previous role. However, it needs a bachelor degree. Do you see any risk in getting the visa?

    Once again, thank you in advance for your help and apologies for the long writing.

    OZ Guy

  5. Dear All,

    Is there any help that you could provide to my previous post on July 3 2012?

    I will greatly appreciated!

    OZ Guy

  6. Hi Oz Guy,
    I am sorry for your situation but glad prospects look brighter. Here is my take.
    1. This is a tricky one as technically no you are not legal as you need to be continually working (i.e. not out of work for more than 10 days). However if your company did not report your lay-off to USCIS then as far as Immigration is concerned you are still in status.
    2. You have to do your new E-3 visa application outside the US. You should have no issue doing it in Canada. Some people report for their very first E-3 visa application now have had problems in Canada but even that as been ad hoc feedback. Certainly noone has reported any issues for subsequent E-3 visas as in your case.
    3. It is probably best not to mention the aspect of remaining in the US for 5 months unemployed given the grey area I mentioned earlier. Rather if asked why you are changing companies that you are moving to a better opportunity which is perfectly true.
    4. This is always tricky. There is no rule about going down a pay-grade so as long this company and job meets the criteria and you background fits the criteria for the job then you are fine.
    Good Luck,

  7. Hello,

    I hold an E-3 visa I was laid off at the start of July. My employer said they would pay me until the end of August and that I didn’t even need to come in to work, I took this option but have now received my termination letter stating that my employment will be officially terminated on the 3rd of August (although I will be paid until the end of August). The letter states that I will be paid up until the end of August even though my employment is terminated on August 3rd.

    My partner and I intended to leave the country in early September but are now concerned we may have to leave earlier (basically impossible) in order not to overstay the Visa.

    Question one: If my position has been officially terminated at work but am still receiving full pay until the end of the month then exactly when does the final 10 day count start ?

    Question two: Is it possible to change visa status from an E-3 to visa waiver or the like in the interim to avoid overstaying the visa ?

    Question three: Have you heard of anybody overstaying the visa for less than 1 month and what are the consequences in the long term ?


  8. Hi DC,
    I am sorry to hear about your situation. In regards to your questions;
    1. Technically your 10 days start when you stop working, however in reality your 10 days only start from the day that your employment terminates from the USCIS point of view.
    2. You could change status from the E-3 visa to the B-1/2 tourist visa (you can’t transfer to visa waiver) but that process takes up to 3 months.
    3. If you leave in early September you almost certainly will be fine. The reality in practice is the date on your I-94 becomes the most important as that is what is in the USCIS system and unless you leave long after that date you are going to be fine. Many people leave long after their visa expiry dates with no consequences as it really 90 days after expiry that negatives may come into play. At end of the day the US is just happy you left voluntarily.

  9. Hello again e3visa,

    We haven’t made up our mind which way we will go just considering options.

    Question: To change my status form E-3 to B-2 tourist should I fill out the I-539 ” Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status “? Should I mark “B-2” on Part 2 question 1b ….. I am applying for a change of status – the new status I am requesting is ……..

    Regards DC

  10. Hi DC,
    That is correct with how you should mark it but as mentioned personally unless you plan to stay here for a longer period than a month it would seem an unnecessary exercise.

  11. Hi there E3Visa,

    I have been working in the US on a E3 Visa from Jan 2012 up until July 2012. Unfortunately the company I was working for went out of business in July and I lost my job. My boyfriend lives in the US so I have stayed well beyond the allowed 10 days to find a new job.The company also informed me that they would not notify any authorities to inform them of the termination of my employment so as to allow me to stay in the US and find a new job.

    I am leaving the country next week to visit Switzerland. I am concerned that I may be questioned coming back through US customs. My visa doesn’t officially expire until April 2014 as stated on my I 94 and visa stamp. My question is do US officials know if your employment has been terminated?? Is there a way they track this even if your employer has not notified the government??

    I am very close to getting a job offer in the US so I am wondering if I should come back into the US on an ESTA waiver or chance it with my current visa.

    Any advice or experience any would provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you.

  12. Hi Dani,
    MOst likely you will not have any issue getting back into the US with an unexpired visa but it is always a risk and they usually ask about your job on re-entry so bear it in mind in terms of your answer. IF you come back into the country on your Visa waiver then you can’t just transfer to an E-3 visa within the country. Also transferring between employers on an E-3 visa is not a quick process all things going well within the country. Read this for extra information;
    Good Luck,

  13. Hi CJ,

    I am currently employed with an E3 visa, however things are not working out at my current job and I’m actively seeking a new position. I almost have one secured with a start-up company. Was hoping you could help me with my questions below:

    -What is the likelihood of securing an e3 visa with a start-up company? Is there a high rate of denial? Do you know people who have successfully received an e3 visa with this type of company or are they scrutinized at the US consulate when attending the visa interview?

    -Are there any implications of an employer not reporting the departure of an employee on the E3 to the USCIS? Is this common?

    Thanks CJ and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your advice.

  14. Mellie startups are certainly allowed on the E-3 visa as long as all the other criteria like prevailing wage, specialty occupation and bachelors degree equivalency are met. The company itself must be legitimate (i.e. with an IRS tax ID and be financially solvent). Many people are sponsored this way but they will check all this during LCA and US Consulate stages. No there are no real implications of company not reporting departure.

  15. Hi there,

    My current employment will end at the end of this month, I had a couple of questions if I may. I am on an E3 visa.

    1) I wanted to confirm it is 10 working days (not weekend days) that I have to leave the country from the date my employment ends?
    2) I plan to come back into the USA on an ESTA to search for work. With respect to questions I may get at immigration is it OK to say things like, I am retuning to the US look for a new position / I have a permanent address and will be living there while I look?
    Should I say I am retuning to travel?
    3) Do you foresee any issues getting back into the country if my ESTA is approved online?

    Thanks so much

  16. Hello,
    First off , thank you for putting together this website. It is an amazing wealth of information and definitely helps navigate the quagmire that is the US immigration system. My question is this:
    I was on an e3 and was terminated on the 19th of May. Fortunately I’d seen the writing on the wall and I’d started looking around for a new job. I now have a new offer and my new employer is willing to sponsor my e3. I’m currently filling out the D160 for my new e3 and I am stuck on the question that asks whether I have had any visas revoked or cancelled.
    My ex employer said they would not report my termination to USCIS until the end of the month, but that they would report the date my employment officially ended. I guess what I’m asking is, is the E3 visa cancelled as of the date of termination of employment or from date when USCIS received written notification of termination from my old employer? Thanks in advance

  17. LDB it is 10 days from end of the visa, however even if you left a month later you almost certainly would have no issue. If you just crossed the border and then tried to reenter the next day of ESTA you may get questioned extensively and denied entry because of your perceived intentions. The E-3 visa is not considered a dual intent visa so mentioning you have a permanent address in the US is not advisable as that is meant to be outside the US. Honestly in your case. It would be better for you if you transferred to a B1/B2 visa within the US so you can just remain if you intend to stay and look for new employment than the risk of re-entry so soon after.

  18. Sandra there is no major issue either way in your case as long as your new employer has initially filed your I-129 change of employer with USCIS during this period from 19th May to 10 days after your notified termination date. You have never had your visa revoked or cancelled as per your above description as you are processing your new E-3 visa in advance of this. In any case revokation or cancellation of E-3 visa is an official process that is done by USCIS which would not apply in your case unless you just remained in the US indefinitely after your notified termination date.

  19. Hi CJ,

    Thank you for your response and for this fantastic resource and advice.

    Re: your response at: June 2, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Just to clarify your advice, are you saying if I was to leave the US a month (for example) after my last date of employment I would not experience any issues leaving or coming back into the US because of this?

    Secondly, I take your point about advising against re-entering the country after just 1 day. As an alternative to getting a B1/B2 visa, I was thinking about going abroad for about week and then re-entering on an E3 to do some traveling around the US. Based on your knowledge do you think this should be OK?

    Finally, if I was to transfer to a B1/B2, do you foresee me running into issues with getting this visa if my interview and application takes places after the 10 day grace period I have to leave the country?

    Thanks again for your time and advice.

  20. Hi CJ,
    Quick question regarding the E3 visa. My brother is seeking a new role (he’s currently employed until early August) – from an employer and UCSIS standpoint, say he doesn’t get a job by early August, if the employer kept him on payroll then would that buy him extra time to look for a job? Is it enough to keep the employee on payroll but not pay him which would keep his E3 status?
    Thanks in advance!

  21. Hi CJ,
    I am Australian, currently living in the US with my American-born husband of 9+ years and am working with an E3 Visa (which expires at the end of September 2014).
    I filed in mid-July for my Green Card (concurrently filed I-130 + I-485, plus all the other forms). I have the receipt of my application from USCIS and have the biometrics appointment scheduled in about a week.
    My question is: can I travel for work or vacation while the Green Card application is in process and my E3 visa is still valid?
    Thanks in advance

  22. Hi,

    I was working on an E3 visa and was laid off in May. I did not leave the US until my lease expired at the end of July but I did not apply for a B1/B2 visa. I now would like to go back into the US on a visa waiver for travel but I am unsure whether I will experience problems re-entering the country seeing as I over stayed my cancelled E3 visa.

    Do you think I will have any problems re-entering the US?


  23. Hi CJ,

    I’m in a bit of a tough position. I have just found out I may not get paid for the last month of work as the company is literally deciding whether or not to continue operations. I saw this coming due to the departing of the founder/CEO and then CFO and some really bad accounting practices being found out. I applied for and got another job, but the transfer process has taken over 2 months now.

    My new company’s lawyer is looking into it but I know they are getting anxious and if things aren’t resolved soon I could see them finding another candidate. I can’t blame them who can wait 2 months for a key position.

    If worst comes to the worst is my current sponsoring company (the one I moved over for) liable for paying for my family to return to Australia? If so do they have to pay for our stuff to go over too? Starting again from scratch would put me back so many years. I’m assuming I would have to go through the department of labor for my outstanding pay check and paid time off owing. If they do have to return me and my family do you know where I can find the relevant immigration law to point them to?

    Thanks for this great resource.

  24. Hi
    Great and important topic. I have a special case to talk about. I am going to US on a E3 visa and my wife will be on a E3D (dependent) visa. She has the freedom to choose her employer. My question is: If I get laid off or cant find a new job in the 10 day period and get the new employer to renew the E3 visa in their name what happens to us? My wife will still be working on her E3D visa so will she then become the main E3 visa holder and I become the E3D? Or do I have to leave the country while she keeps working in the US? How is this situation handled? We also have a 3 year old son.

    Thanks in advance

  25. I have an E3 Visa question….If I am working in the States on an E3 Visa (linked to a sponsor organisation), can I then work a 2nd job for another organisation while keeping my original job?? Any advice would be appreciated, James

  26. Hi E3 visa,

    I plan to quit my job in June. However I want to stay in the USA for a further 6 months to travel.
    Do you think it is more advisable to leave the USA and return on the visa waiver for 3 months and then do this again in another 3 months? Or should i transfer my E3 visa to the B1 tourist visa?

    -If I choose to enter the USA on a visa waiver do I need a ticket out of the USA booked to present at the border?

    -If I choose to transfer to a B1 tourist visa how do I do that?

    Thank you!

  27. Wow, this site is brilliant. So much info and insight, thank you.
    Now to my question(s):
    My husband’s employers folded the company and he got laid off 3 days ago with no notice. We have been in the US for 10 months. Can I just confirm that I understand our options:

    1. Get a new job ASAP, get them to file an LCA, take that (once signed by the authorities), along with the signed job offer and the DS160 to a US consulate elsewhere where we have booked an appointment and stay in a hotel until the visa and passports are sent to us (at the hotel).

    2. Do a transfer of employers via USCIS from within the country. This is a lengthy process and he can’t work during it.

    Do you think this is an accurate summation of the options? Can he work for the new company during option 1?

    Can I ask lastly : as the E3D, do I have to do my own DS160 and can I work once he has the LCA (i can’t remember if we did that when we initially applied)

    Thank you to infinity and beyond for any help!

    Sorry for the length of my question!

  28. Hi E3 Visa,

    I recently started employment in America, November 17 2014 on an E3 visa and unfortunately today due to cut backs, I have been laid off with today Monday 9th February 2015 as my last day.

    How long have I got in America in order to sort everything out before I have to leave the country?


  29. Wozza sad to hear about your situation but is the nature of the US employment situation at times. Technically you only have 10 days post end of employment to leave the country but practically speaking if you leave in next few weeks following your last day you will be fine. Legally speaking your employer in these circumstances is also responsible for paying for your trip home along with any dependents.

  30. Amy its a sad situation. Technically speaking you only have 10 days to find new employment and have an application at least filed which is almost impossible to allow you to continue to stay in the country. If your employer delays notification and gives you some sort of payout this can extend this time. So yes the process for a new employer will be exactly what you went through with your initial E-3 visa. If your employer with your E-3D is willing to sponsor you for a primary E-3 visa then that could be an option to allow for continuity. Legally speaking your E-3D becomes invalid when the E-3 visa is no longer valid.
    Good Luck,

  31. I am on E-3 visa and would like to know if I leave the job and travel outside of US, can I enter on ESTA (Visa Waiver program) to pack up my stuff since that could take longer than 10 working days. I need time to see my personal effects and car.
    I would also like to know how do I cancel my E-3 visa which will be still valid after I leav the job and travel outside of USA.
    Thanks a lot for your help.

  32. Hi there,

    Just resigned from my job on an E3 visa, with my family on E3D visas.

    Do we have 10 days to leave the country completely, or does the 10 days refer to finding a new job for ease of transfer of visas? Happy to wait to find the right job in another month or so, and pop up to Canada with the family to renew.

    Just freaking that in 10 days we need to have our house and kids packed up and outta here!


  33. Unfortunately for the last few posters, the ’10 days’ period is a myth. It applies to H1-B visa holder, not to E-3 visas.

  34. Craig as per the previous post where you mentioned this same comment, the 10 Day rule DOES apply to the E-3 visa. Here is the official US government reference; so please stop spreading misinformation to readers in an already confusing landscape.

  35. Hi Visa Coach,
    I have a situation where I was working full time, but my hours have been reduced significantly due to the business slowing down, but I am still employed and on the payroll. I have enough savings to get by while I look for another full time job, will this be an issue or do I only have 10 days to find another job?

  36. Visacoach you mention that your employer is responsible for return costs of the visa holder and dependents if they terminate the position – can you give a reference to where I’d find that info?

  37. Coach, sorry, I wasn’t clear enough. I’m referring to the notion that you have 10 days to leave the country if you are no longer employed. Not the period between jobs, as per your reference.

    If you lose your job you do not have a 10 day grace period.

  38. Craig you can only legally be out of work for 10 days so there is a period as it is the same law as between jobs (assuming no new petition has been filed and received prior to the 10 days). So that also applies at the end of your visa period. It is also the obligation of the employer to pay travel costs home if they terminate employment prior to the expiry of this visa. It is not something that is strongly enforced nor does it in all likelihood have any adverse consequences as long as you leave no later than 3-6 months post the expiry on your visa. However legally speaking if you don’t leave within 10 days you could in theory be barred from future entry or any new visa.

  39. Hi,
    When switching from one company to another does the new employer need to be paying you more than the previous employer? As to no look like you’re taking a step back… I’m concerned as the new job is a promotion in terms of work and company but they pay less than my current company does.

  40. Please help. My husband has been working for an Australian company for 15 years, in US over a year. He is suffering from a mental health issue, told them that and he has been seeing a doctor, and they want to terminate his contract with them at the end of the E3 visa end date, ie not renew and effectively terminating 15 years employment. Does he have any right?

  41. Hi,
    I am on an E3 and I have switched jobs. My old job ended on May 24 but my new job only starts on July 17. The new company has already started the application for an E3. Do I need to leave within 10 days of May 24 or do I have longer as I have a new job and the company has started the visa process?

  42. Hi,

    I am looking to leave my employer and move back to Australia.

    Since I am voluntary leaving does my employer have to cover my flights and moving expenses as they did to get me over here?

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