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Presidential Panel Calls For H-1B Grace Period Extension Amid Layoffs

Mar 16, 2023

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A presidential advisory panel has urged the federal government to extend the “grace period” for H-1B visa holders who lose their jobs from 60 days to 180 days. If accepted and implemented by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the recommendation would allow laid off H-1B visa holders more time to search for new employment before having to leave the country.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders drafted the recommendation based on the challenges H-1B visa holders currently face when they lose their jobs. According to current guidance from USCIS, there is a 60-day window for foreign workers who lose their jobs to find a new job before they are required to leave the country. Leaders of the advisory panel called out the challenges this tight time period poses for out-of-work visa holders — finding a new employer willing to sponsor you and filing complex forms with USCIS to transfer your work visa status in just 60 days is a tall order, especially in a turbulent economic climate. Extending the grace period to 180 days would provide work visa holders with much-needed breathing room to not only secure new employment, but to maintain lawful status in the U.S. as well.

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The panel’s proposal comes amidst waves of layoffs that have rocked the tech industry (which employs a significant share of foreign workers) over the last few months. This week, Facebook’s parent company Meta announced plans to layoff 10,000 members of its workforce, many of whom are work visa holders. The recent collapse of tech-lender Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is also expected to trigger more layoffs in the tech industry — a ripple effect which will likely put a particular strain on foreign workers and place many individuals in immigration limbo.

Although the grace period extension is not yet finalized, H-1B visa holders and immigration advocates are hopeful the recommendation will lead to an official announcement and implementation by USCIS in the coming months.

This is a developing story that Boundless will continue to monitor closely. Stay tuned for updates!

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