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Navigating H1B Layoffs: Essential Steps and Recommendations

Posted by Shyla | Updated on Sep 14, 2023

At a Glance:

In the ever-evolving landscape of the U.S. job market, H1B visa holders face unique challenges, especially when confronted with layoffs. While the process of H1B revocation by the USCIS can span several months, affected individuals must act swiftly and strategically. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the complexities of an H1B layoff.

The documents stored in the box below pertain to a notice of layoff.


I. Understanding the H1B Layoff Landscape

Know Your Rights

If you are a victim of an H1B layoff, the first step is not to panic. H-1B visa holders are typically granted a 60-day grace period upon being laid off. This time allows them to find a new employer or change their visa status. It's crucial to note that this grace period is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the USCIS authorities.

Haven said that, amid significant layoffs by tech companies, the US has recommended extending the grace period for H1-B workers who have lost their jobs from 60 days to 180 days. This move aims to provide H1-B workers more time to find new job opportunities or alternative solutions to maintain their status in the United States. Stay updated to ensure you get the most out of your grace period.

H1B holders need to note that the days within the grace period still count towards the H1B 6-year limit.


  • Being 'out of status' is distinct from 'unlawful presence.' In specific scenarios, 'unlawful presence' can restrict reentry into the U.S.: Accumulating 180 to 365 days of unlawful presence leads to a three-year reentry prohibition if you leave while having more than a year results in a 10-year ban upon departure.

Act Fast & H1B Transfer Explained:

Launch into job-hunting mode immediately post-layoff. Your search becomes your full-time commitment until you secure a new position. Once you have secured a new job, you can proceed with the so-called “H1B Transfer” process to ensure your legal working status in the U.S.


  • H-1B Transfer Misconception: The term "H-1B transfer" is misleading. When an H-1B visa holder changes jobs, the new employer files a fresh petition with USCIS. The distinction between a new petition and a transfer is that the employee already possesses an H-1B, so they don't need to be entered into the annual H-1B visa lottery.

  • Transferring H-1B After Being Laid Off: If an H-1B visa holder is laid off, they are considered out of status. USCIS provides a 60-day grace period during which a new employer can file a petition to transfer the H-1B. If the petition is received within this grace period, the individual can remain in the U.S. and even start working for the new company.

  • Scenario After 60 Days: If an individual cannot find a new employer within 60 days, they should leave the U.S. to avoid accruing unlawful status. If they receive a job offer after 60 days, the new employer can still file an H-1B petition, but the individual must leave the U.S. and await approval abroad.

  • H-1B Portability: H-1B workers can start work with a new employer without waiting for the H-1B petition to be approved under certain conditions.

  • Return Transportation: Employers are responsible for paying the "reasonable" transportation costs for the H-1B worker to return to their last place of foreign residence upon termination.

Maintaining Legal Status by All Means

It's paramount to demonstrate a genuine effort to retain legal status in the U.S. If your previous employer revoked your H1B status, or you couldn’t secure a job within the 60-day grace period, consider filing for a change of status to F1.

You may choose to change the status to B1/B2 as well, though F1 might be a superior option, and this is why:

  • USCIS opened expedited COS service for those who need to change their status to F1 within the U.S. The process time can be as short as 1 month now.

  • As an F1 student, you can work on CPT while looking for a more permanent solution.

  • It is more reasonable for one to go back to school and advance their knowledge and skills after working for a while than for one to change to a tourism visa. Changing status to B1/B2 might raise questions in the future green card application process unless you have a convincing explanation of why you became a tourist to the U.S. after working here.


II. Change of Status from H1B to F1 Explained

Processing Time:

Approval can take between 1 to 6 months now. If you need to be done fast, you may choose primary processing, which USCIS will charge an extra $1500 fee.

The Two-Step Process:

  • Step 1: Secure Admission: Apply to an SEVP-approved school. Obtain an I-20 upon acceptance.

  • Step 2: Apply for Change of Status:

    • Ensure you remain in a valid status during the transition.

    • Attend classes even if the status change is pending.

    • Ensure status remains valid 30 days before the class start date.

Document Checklist:

  • I-20 from an SEVP-approved school.

  • I-901 Sevis fee receipt.

  • Copy of passport.

  • Copies of all prior H1B approvals.

  • Copy of I-94.

  • Recent pay stubs.

  • Financial affidavit with proof of funds.

  • Cover letter explaining the reason for the change.


IV. How Could I Get an I-20 Fast? 

Join an accredited Day 1 CPT university, and this is why:

  • These institutions differ from conventional universities in offering more than two intakes annually. Some provide up to six enrollment opportunities each year, allowing you the flexibility to obtain your I-20 almost whenever required. 

  • Additionally, Day 1 CPT universities are known for their swift application processing. You can typically receive an offer in as little as two weeks without opting for expedited services. When at risk of losing status, every moment counts. 

  • After enrollment, you can seek CPT authorization, which can serve as a work permit. This allows you to pursue internships or full-time positions until you secure an employer to facilitate your H1B transfer. Subsequently, you can transition your status from F1 back to H1B, making the process smooth and straightforward.


Do I need a Lawyer? How much it will cost in total?

Technically speaking, hiring a lawyer for the change of status process isn't mandatory. The procedure is generally straightforward. However, nuances and intricate details can lead to complications, such as receiving an RFE or leaving a negative mark with USCIS. Hence, many individuals seek advice from an immigration lawyer before proceeding.

Typically, a for-profit immigration attorney's fees range from $200-300 per hour, depending on your location and the specific lawyer's rates.

Being official collaborators with over 25+ accredited institutions, we offer a comprehensive service package at a substantially reduced rate for you: Our fee for the change of status service is $ 1,500. We are a better choice for you because:

  • We operate on a flat fee basis, without tallying hours. Even if your case becomes complex or an RFE arises later, our fee encompasses it all.

  • Thanks to our partnerships with universities, we can assist in waiving the program application fee and even securing scholarships for you. All consultations related to enrollment are complimentary.

  • We offer a rapid service for those with pressing needs who can procure an I-20 in as little as one day. However, this expedited enrollment is a premium service with an additional flat fee of $1500.

To sum up, for those seeking a swift and efficient way to obtain an I-20, enrolling in a Day 1 CPT university is a strategic choice. Not only do these institutions offer multiple enrollment windows throughout the year, but they also pride themselves on rapid application processing. Furthermore, the added benefit of CPT authorization post-enrollment provides a valuable avenue for work opportunities. In the dynamic landscape of visa statuses and work authorizations, choosing a Day 1 CPT university can be the key to navigating transitions seamlessly and ensuring you're always a step ahead.

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