Understanding L1 Visa Layoffs: Options & Grace Periods

Erick Widman

Getting laid off is always a challenging experience, but for those on an L1 visa in the United States, it can be particularly daunting. The L1 visa is tied to specific employment, and losing that job can put your immigration status—and that of your family—at risk. However, it’s important to remember that there are several options available that could allow you to stay in the U.S. and continue your journey.

Understanding L1 Visa Layoffs: Options & Grace Periods

Understanding L1 Visa Layoffs

Keep in mind the below several important points for proceeding onward.

Seeking New Employment

One of the most straightforward options after a layoff is to find another job. If you can find another employer who is willing to sponsor an employment visa, they can file a petition on your behalf to change your status. However, it’s crucial to note that your new employer must be an affiliate, subsidiary, or parent company of your original employer to maintain L1 status. During this time, understanding the L1 visa layoff grace period and USCIS 60-day grace period can provide some breathing room while you secure new employment.

Change of Status

If finding a new job within the same corporate structure isn’t feasible, another option could be to change your visa status. This could involve switching to another employment-based visa category, such as H1B if you work in a speciality occupation or even an investment-based visa like the E2, provided you have the necessary capital and plan to invest in a U.S. business. It’s important to act within the L-1 grace period or explore options like the O-1 visa grace period if applicable.

Applying for a Green Card

If you were already considering permanent residency in the U.S., now might be the time to start the process. There are several routes to obtaining a green card, including through employment or family sponsorship. While the process can be lengthy, starting it as soon as possible can help secure your long-term future in the U.S., especially considering the 180-day grace period for certain adjustments.

Using the Grace Period

In certain circumstances, nonimmigrant workers may be eligible for a 60-day grace period following the termination of their employment. This grace period allows you to stay in the U.S. while you adjust your status or make arrangements to return to your home country. Understanding the specific conditions of the H1B layoff grace period can also be crucial.

Family Considerations

If your spouse has an L2 visa, they may have been working with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Unfortunately, once the L1 visa holder loses their job, the L2 visa holder also loses their right to work. It’s crucial to factor this into your plans, especially if exploring options like the compelling circumstances of EAD layoff.

Planning Ahead

Preparation is key when facing a layoff on a visa. Proactive engagement with USCIS regarding visa layoffs and understanding your rights and responsibilities can mitigate risks associated with sudden employment termination. Always ensure that your USCIS electronic signature and documents are updated to reflect any changes in your employment or visa status to avoid complications.

Consulting an Immigration Attorney

Every situation is unique, and the best course of action will depend on your circumstances. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney can provide clarity and guidance tailored to your situation. They can help explore all possible avenues and decide on the most viable strategy.

Experiencing a layoff as an L1 visa holder is undoubtedly stressful, but remember, there are options available. Whether through new employment, changing your status, or commencing the path to permanent residency, there may be ways to navigate this challenging situation and continue your life in the U.S. We at Passage Immigration Law are here to help guide you through these complex processes, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

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