Tag Archives: fired

Are you on a H-1B Visa or E-3 Visa and now Laid Off?

I wrote earlier in February about this very issue and the main ideas I had to help you find new employment so the posts I recommend reading are;

Laid Off on an E-3 or H-1B Visa where I talk about the situation and idea where you can get your current employer to help and also an option in Canada
Extending, Renewing or Changing Employers on your E-3 Visa this is alsoย  helpul to H-1B holders or applicants as the process is very similar
Information about the Top 100 Companies that sponsored H-1B visas last year where we discuss how this may help you and the genesis of the list which we made FREE for you
The Top 200 List of US Visa Employers Last Year is a raw list of the companies that is beneficial to E-3 visa applicants as much as H-1B and even J-1.

Now I have received a lot of emails in recent times about;
How long people have?
How can they extend their time to look for a job?
Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find a position?
Do I have access to any unemployment benefits since I pay Social Security/Payroll/FICA Taxes?
Can I work while the transfer process is underway?

I will try and document the answers to these questions briefly on one page, although a lot of these answers are in more detail elsewhere in the blog in other posts and you can go the All Posts List which documents all entries and visa information by title.

1. How long do I have?
Technically you only have 10 days to find a new employer once your current employer notifies USCIS of your termination date. We explain in the above post more fully how you can ask you employer to delay this notification to give you more time.
NB: Over time through guidance and enforcement changes, and post the financial crisis, the e-3 visa rules continued to more resemble the h-1b visa rules. So the 10 days have become more like 60 days. However always be cautious as you never know what might be enforced especially in the post 2016-era of US immigration.

2. How can you extend your time to find a job?
Will this really follows on from question 1, so the delay in notification is one option. Leaving and re-entering the US on the visa-waiver program is another option. Transferring to a B1/B2 visa or even another category (although you have to meet their individual requirements) can also potentially extend your time.

3. Is the transfer process easy and not too costly?
It certainly could be easier, I mention in the above linked post the entire process and forms involved. Eassentially it involves getting a new LCA form and a filing form for transfer of employer to USCIS which I think costs around $300 although this constantly changes. It can be relatively straightforward in what you do but it can be a long process.
Of course if travel is involed if you plan to get a new visa outside the country this of course will amplify costs.

4. Can you transfer to B1/B2 status to allow you more time to find an employer?
You certainly can trasnfer to B1/B2 if you do this application to USCIS. Visapro states USCIS officers have been allowed to exercise their discretion to grant you another nonimmigrant status, if you apply for change of status within 10 days after you are laid off.

5. Do you have access to any unemployment benefits as you pay Social Security taxes?
No you don’t in any shape or form if you are on any non-immigrant visa. Yes this is completely unfair given you are forced to pay these taxes just like a US worker but you have no claim to any benefits.

6. Can I work while the transfer process is underway?
For H-1B visa holders you can given the application has been filed and you have your approved LCA from the Department of Labor. However your transfer application could still be denied potentially by the USCIS.

For E-3 visa holders the answer is a little more strange as it is largely undocumented. So some USCIS officers will say the rules are the same as H-1B as they are for most other things when not fully documented as seems to be the general direction of the visa. However other officers say this is not the case and you have to wait for your transfer. This combined with the transfer visa application cost has caused many of E-3 to just go to Canada and apply for a new visa with their new employer instead.

Good luck if this is your predicament…I wish you all the best ๐Ÿ™‚


**look I should say again I am not a lawyer but I answer these questions to the best of my ability having gone through the visa process many times and having shared experiences with many others so I want to save you guys as much money as I can with potential legal costs. Some of the policies change a lot and I try to keep us as much as I can but I do miss a few changes.

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. ๐Ÿ™

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.