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H1B Grace Period: Everything You Need to Know

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Exploring Options During the H1B Grace Period

Time is of the essence.

The H1B grace period is a crucial time for your immigration journey, it’s like you are within the center of a storm. It's designed for people who are laid off or might not have a job right now, allowing them to legally stay in the United States for a certain amount of time. It's important to move quickly and make sure you stay within the law during this key time. It's essential to act quickly and maximize the benefits of this period by understanding your potential options and planning ahead. How you use this time can have a significant impact on your future career development in the U.S.

Overview of H1B Visa

The H1B grace period is a provision that allows H1B visa holders and their eligible dependents a certain amount of time to change their status, find new employment, or leave the United States after their employment has ended. Here are the key points:

  • The grace period can be up to 60 days or until the end of the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter. This grace period can only be requested once during each authorized validity period.
  • If an H1B holder is unable to transfer to a new employer or change to another status within the grace period, they may leave the United States and have an H1B filed on their behalf at a later date.
  • If the H1B holder stays in the United States beyond the grace period, they will have to disclose that overstay on all future visa applications. Overstays of 180 days or more in any nonimmigrant visa status trigger a three-year bar to admission to the United States, and an overstay of a year or more triggers a ten-year bar.
  • There is also a 10-day grace period before the period starts and 10 days after the period ends. This should be noted on the Form I-94 upon admission to the United States or change of status.
  • The grace period is discretionary, and USCIS may eliminate or shorten the period. Circumstances that may lead to this include violations of status, unauthorized employment during the grace period, fraud or national security concerns, or criminal convictions.
  •  The 60-day grace period also applies to H-4 dependents.

The 60-Day Grace Period for Employment Termination

In the event of early employment termination, the initial 10-day grace period does not apply. Instead, H-1B visa holders benefit from a more extended 60-day grace period. This period is designed to offer a buffer for those who find themselves unexpectedly out of work before their visa's scheduled end. During these 60 days, individuals have the opportunity to secure new employment and maintain their lawful status without the immediate pressure of leaving the country.

Clarifying the 180-Day Grace Period Misinformation

Misinformation regarding an extension of the grace period from 60 to 180 days has circulated. It's important to note that, despite recommendations from the Presidential Advisory Panel, this extension has not been enacted. H-1B visa holders should plan based on the existing grace periods outlined above.

What are the Key restrictions for the H1B grace period?

The H1B grace period comes with certain key restrictions that individuals need to be aware of. These restrictions include:

  • The H1B grace period is discretionary, meaning the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may eliminate or shorten the period based on certain circumstances. These circumstances may include violations of status, unauthorized employment during the grace period, fraud or national security concerns, or criminal convictions.
  • If an H1B holder stays in the United States beyond the grace period, they will have to disclose that overstay on all future visa applications. Overstays of any nonimmigrant visa status (including H1B) of 180 days or more trigger a three-year bar to admission to the United States, and an overstay of a year or more triggers a ten-year bar.
  • Employment is not permitted during the grace period.
  • Suppose an H1B holder is not able to transfer to a new employer or change to another status within the grace period. In that case, that person may still leave the United States at a later date and have an H1B filed on his or her behalf and consular process the new visa.
  • If an H1B employee quits or is terminated, he or she has a 60-day grace period to file an H1B transfer to a new employer, change to a status other than H1B, or leave the United States. An exception is a person who has less than 60 days left in H1B status (i.e., his or her I-94 has less than 60 days remaining), in which case the person is entitled to a grace period in the amount of time remaining on the I-94.
  • A person is only allowed to use the 60-day grace period one time. If a person is terminated and then during his or her 60-day grace period has an H1B filed to join a new company, and that petition is then denied, he or she does not get an additional 60-day grace period.
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Employment Strategies Post-Layoff

In case of a layoff, H1B visa holders should act quickly and strategically to explore job opportunities within their professional network, less affected industries, and through H1B specialized recruitment agencies. 

How to Negotiate with HR After Being Laid Off

When dealing with the termination of H1B employment, it's important to carefully manage the grace period and negotiate terms with your employer. For H1B holders, the 60-day grace period is a critical time to secure new employment or make other visa arrangements. To potentially extend this period or negotiate its start date, clear communication with your employer is key, focusing on how a flexible arrangement can benefit both parties.

For negotiations around termination compensation, a direct and concise email can be effective. Here's a simplified example:

Subject: Request for Negotiation of Termination Terms

Dear [Employer's Name],

I hope this message finds you well. As we discuss the terms of my employment termination, I wish to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work with [Company Name]. During my time here, I've been committed to contributing positively and have greatly valued the experience and growth I've gained.

In light of my H1B visa status and the associated constraints, I'm reaching out to discuss a potential negotiation regarding my termination compensation and the timing of my grace period. Given the unique challenges faced by H1B visa holders in transitioning employment or status within the limited 60-day grace period, I believe there's a mutual benefit in exploring a more flexible arrangement.

Specifically, I would like to propose the following for consideration:

  1. A later start date for my grace period, allowing additional time to secure new employment or make necessary arrangements for a status change, ensuring a smoother transition for both of us.
  2. An exploration of enhanced compensation or benefits to assist in this transitional phase, recognizing the added complexities of my situation.

I am open to discussing these proposals further and am flexible in finding a solution that meets both our needs. Your support in this matter would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way in facilitating a positive and constructive transition.

Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to discussing this with you further at your earliest convenience.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Seeking New Sponsorship

During this critical juncture, H1B holders should prioritize securing new sponsorships. Maintaining legal status is a race against the clock, so it's paramount to identify companies willing to sponsor H1B visas.

Filtering companies that have a history of sponsoring H1B visas is essential. This increases the odds of success significantly.

Approaching the job hunt with urgency without compromising the quality of opportunities is a challenging balance. Candidates must navigate the job market quickly and cautiously to find a supportive work environment.

Companies that offer allow H1B transfer

Please look at our company list, which allows for the H1B transfer.

>>> Full Company List: Companies Accept Day 1 CPT

Alternative VISA Options

After the conclusion of your H1B tenure, should you find yourself within the H1B grace period, exploring other visa categories and the option of changing status is highly recommended. This period presents a critical opportunity to consider various avenues that align with your professional trajectory and compliance with U.S. immigration policies.

Notable alternatives during the H1B grace period include:

  • L1 Visa: for intra-company transfers.
  • O1 Visa: for individuals with extraordinary abilities or achievements.
  • F1 Visa: student visa that allows a foreign national to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited academic institution.
  • B1 Visa: non-immigrant U.S. visa that allows individuals to enter the U.S. for business purposes.
  • H4 Visa: dependent visa for H1B holders.

Each alternative visa or change of status option carries its unique requirements and constraints. Hence, it is essential to scrutinize these carefully and thoroughly. Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide tailored advice and facilitate the identification of the most appropriate visa or change of status option. The strategic transition to a different visa classification or status could safeguard your legal status in the United States and maintain your career progression.

Transitioning to F1 Categories with Day 1 CPT

Transitioning to F1 categories with Day 1 CPT (Curricular Practical Training) can be a viable option for individuals who are looking to continue their education and gain practical work experience simultaneously. Day 1 CPT allows F1 students to engage in paid internships or cooperative education programs from the first day of their academic program. Here are some key points to consider when transitioning to F1 categories with Day 1 CPT:

  1. Research and choose a reputable institution: Start by researching and selecting a reputable educational institution that offers F1 programs with Day 1 CPT. Look for universities or colleges that have a strong curriculum in your field of interest and a track record of providing quality education and practical training opportunities.
  2. Understand the eligibility requirements: Familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements for F1 categories with Day 1 CPT. You need to be enrolled in a full-time academic program and maintain good academic standing. Each institution may have specific requirements, so it's essential to review them carefully.
  3. Apply for admission: Once you have chosen an institution, follow the application process to apply for admission. Provide all the required documents, including transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Pay attention to deadlines and ensure that your application is complete and accurate.
  4. Understand the program requirements: Familiarize yourself with the program requirements, including the academic curriculum and the availability of Day 1 CPT opportunities. Review the course offerings, faculty expertise, and the institution's connections with industry partners for potential internship or cooperative education opportunities.
  5. Maintain legal status and comply with regulations: Once you transition to F1 categories with Day 1 CPT, it is crucial to maintain legal status and comply with all immigration regulations. Attend classes regularly, maintain good academic standing, and follow the guidelines set by the institution and the USCIS.

Transitioning to F1 categories with Day 1 CPT can allow you to gain practical work experience while pursuing your education. It is essential to thoroughly research and understand the requirements and regulations associated with this option. By doing so, you can make an informed decision and set yourself up for a successful academic and professional journey.

Steps for your transitioning to F1

To change your status to an F1 visa during your H1B grace period, you need to follow these steps:

  1. File Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your current H1B status expires.
  2. The start date listed on the change of status petition or application must be within or continuous with the end of the grace period. 
  3. If your H1B status expires more than 30 days before your F-1 program’s initial start date, you must file a second Form I-539 requesting to extend your H1B status. If you do not file this extension request on time, USCIS will deny your Form I-539 request to change to F-1 status. 
  4.  If USCIS does not decide on your Form I-539 change of status application before your originally intended F-1 program start date and your program start date is deferred to the following academic term or semester, you must file a second Form I-539 to bridge the gap in time between when your current status expires and the 30-day period before your new F-1 program start date.
  5. Keep checking the USCIS processing times to determine if you need to file a request to extend your H1B status.

Please note that the F-1 status provides a 60-day grace period following the completion of a course of study and any post-completion practical training. However, if you maintain an entire course of study with designated school official (DSO) approval or maintain status, there is a grace period.

Preparing for Possible Departure

As the H1B grace period wanes, strategizing for a potential departure becomes imperative. Cultivate a meticulous plan that encompasses every aspect of your departure, including the legal and logistical processes of leaving the United States. Ensure that all affairs are in order, from financial considerations to the shipment of personal belongings. Establishing a timeline and acting promptly will mitigate the stress associated with departure, providing a structured pathway should you transition back to your home country.

Logistics of leaving the US

Navigating the complexities of departure requires both precision and foresight.

  1. Document Review: Verify that your passport and travel documents are up-to-date and readily accessible.
  2. Timely Notification: Inform your employer, academic institution, and relevant government agencies of your intended departure date.
  3. Settlement of Affairs: Attend to financial obligations, including closing bank accounts and settling outstanding debts.
  4. Personal Belongings: Plan and execute the shipment or sale of your possessions, mindful of customs regulations.
  5. Travel Arrangements: Secure your travel bookings well in advance to accommodate potential last-minute changes.
  6. Healthcare: Arrange continuity of care for ongoing medical treatments and request necessary medical records. Effective execution of departure logistics minimizes future complications. Thorough preparation begets a smoother transition from the US to your next destination.
  7. Maintaining US Connections Remotely: Virtual platforms allow you to remain professionally engaged with US-based networks and colleagues while physically distant.

In the digital realm, remote work tools offer a portal to sustained business interactions, bridging the gap effectively despite geographic distances. Professional forums, ongoing project collaborations, and virtual networking events can maintain and even strengthen your professional connections in the US. Nurturing these ties can prove integral to your career trajectory, providing a continuum of engagement and knowledge exchange.

Furthermore, continued participation in professional organizations and industry associations remotely maintains visibility and relevance within your sector. By contributing to dialogues, sharing insights, and staying informed about developments in your field, you preserve the professional persona you've cultivated stateside.

Commonly asked questions

1. How do I file taxes when I work outside of the US?

As a non-citizen and non-permanent resident working outside of the U.S. for a U.S.-based company, you are considered a non-resident alien for tax purposes. Here's how you should report your taxes: • You are required to file a U.S. tax return if you have U.S.-sourced income. This includes income from a U.S.-based company. • You should file your tax return using IRS Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. • Your U.S.-sourced income is subject to tax withholding under Internal Revenue Code §1441(a). • You are not subject to tax on your worldwide income, only on your U.S.-sourced income. • You may use IRS Form 4506-T to request tax transcripts from the IRS. Complete IRS Form 4506-T with the ending date for each of your three most recent tax years listed on line 9. Follow all instructions for completing and filing Form 4506-T with the IRS.

2. Can I use my H1B grace period multiple times?

No, you cannot use your H1B grace period multiple times. The grace period may be requested only once during each authorized validity period. This means that if a new H1B is approved with a new validity period, the 60-day grace period will again be available. However, it's important to note that the grace period is discretionary, and USCIS may eliminate or shorten the period.

3. Can transfer my H1B during the grace period?

Yes, you can transfer your H1B during the grace period.

4. Can H1B visa holders work during the grace period?

No, any type of employment is prohibited during the grace period. !!!

5. Is it possible to extend the H1B grace period?

No, it is not possible to extend the H1B grace period. The grace period for H1B workers is a one-time allowance of up to 60 days following separation from employment.

6. Do H1B visa holders need to leave the country at the end of the grace period?

Yes, if they don't change their status to another status.

7. How does the H1B grace period affect green card applications?

The H1B grace period doesn't directly impact green card applications.

Addition Information that you may want to know:

  • Certain workers may request a one-time grace period of up to 60 days to file a new nonimmigrant status application or leave the United States after separating from their sponsoring employer. This grace period is not automatic, and USCIS has the discretion to deny it.
  • There is also a 10-day grace period following the expiration of the admission period noted on Form I-94, the Arrival/Departure Record. This 10-day grace period applies to the H-1B, O-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, and TN classifications. However, this would not apply to prematurely terminated workers.
  • The 10-day grace period only applies if either USCIS or a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer specifically grants the grace period on the individual’s Form I-94.
  • Work authorization on H-1B status can be automatically extended for an additional 240 days beyond the expiration of the I-94 if an extension of status application is filed prior to the expiration of the stay.
  • If an H-1B holder is not able to transfer to a new employer or change to another status within the grace period, they may still leave the United States and, at a later date, have an H-1B filed on their behalf and consular process the new visa.
  • If the H-1B holder stays in the United States beyond the grace period, they will have to disclose that overstay on all future visa applications. Overstays of any nonimmigrant visa status (including H-1B) of 180 days or more trigger a three-year bar to admission to the United States, and an overstay of a year or more triggers a ten-year bar.
  • The grace period may be requested only once during each authorized validity period, and an H-1B petition may be filed during it. However, the grace period should be formally requested in the new petition. USCIS has also confirmed that the filing of an H-1B petition during the grace period does confer H-1B portability if all other portability requirements are met.

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