Lost a tech job in the US? This is how your H1-B visa status might change

Nov 10, 2022

By: Srishti Magan

Massive layoffs by tech companies in the last 3 months

From Twitter to Microsoft, massive layoffs have been reported by tech companies around the world, with Meta being the latest. 766 companies around the world have fired 1,18,023 employees this year alone, as per Layoffs.fyi Tracker, which tracks all tech startup layoffs.

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Meta lays off 11,000 people, offers immigration support to employees on work visas

After a massive layoff of 11,000 people, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that they have “dedicated immigration specialists” to help and guide employees on work visas regarding the next steps.

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US work visas available for Indians

There are 9 non-immigrant US work visas available for Indian citizens, namely H-1B, H-2B, H-3, H-4, L-1, L-2, O, Q and P. Among these categories, H-1B visa is the most commonly availed visa category, especially by IT professionals.

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What is a H-1B visa?

Created in 1990, H-1B visa is a temporary, non-immigrant visa category for foreign working professionals wishing to work in the US. It is also a dual-intent visa, which means individuals on H-1B visa can also apply for a green card.

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H-1B visa eligibility criteria

The minimum eligibility requirement is a bachelor’s or higher degree or its equivalent, along with a job offer from a US employer for a role requiring “specialty knowledge”. Any US-based employer can sponsor the visa, but they need to file a Form I-129 on behalf of the visa applicant.

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H-1B visa validity and extension

H-1B visa is valid for three years and can be extended up to 6 years. Only the time spent in the US counts towards the six years - any time away from the States is discounted.

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H-1B visa cap

The annual H-1B cap stands at 65,000, with an additional limit of 20,000 for people with a master’s degree or its equivalent from a US institution. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in February itself that it had received enough petitions to meet the FY2022 target.

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Family of H-1B visa holders

Spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of H-1B visa holders can stay with them in the US. They need to apply for the H-4 nonimmigrant visa category.

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How long can H-1B visa holders stay in the US without a job

Employees on H-1B visas, who’ve lost their job due to layoffs or other unforeseen reasons, have a grace period of 60 days to find another job. The new employer has to again file a Form I-129 on their behalf.

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