The Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders has proposed that the federal government extend the “grace period” for temporary H-1B visa holders who lose their jobs from 60 days (2 months) to 180 days (6 months).
The panel drafted this recommendation in light of the challenges that H-1B visa holders face when they lose their jobs. Currently, foreign workers who lose their jobs have only 60 days to find a new job that satisfies the requirements of their visa before they are required to leave the U.S.. It was argued that finding a new employer willing to sponsor a work visa and filing complex forms with USCIS to transfer work visa status in just 60 days is a difficult task, especially given the current economic climate. An extension of the grace period would provide work visa holders with more time to secure new employment and maintain lawful status in the U.S. – avoiding the risk of deportation.
The panel’s recommendation comes as the tech industry, which employs many skilled foreign workers, experiences waves of layoffs. Facebook’s parent company Meta recently announced plans to lay off 10,000 workers, many of whom are work visa holders – in addition to 11,000 that were announced in November. The recent collapse of tech-lender Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) is also expected to trigger more layoffs, which will likely place many individuals in immigration limbo.
While the grace period extension is not yet finalized, temporary workers and immigration advocates are hopeful that this recommendation will lead to an formal announcement and implementation by USCIS in the coming weeks and months.