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If I Am Being Laid Off, Can I Apply for Some Other Status?

Hi William,

Both my husband and me are in H-1B status. If I am being laid off, can I apply for some other status? and what are other options?


The law considers H-1B employment “at-will” employment, meaning the employer has the right to terminate your employment for lawful reasons at any time. However, you also have the right to be treated like any U.S. citizen employee in regards to your company’s employment termination procedures. For example, if your company provides severance packages to its employees, you are also entitled to this benefit.

While there are many advantages to H-1B status, one disadvantage is that your lawful status is dependent upon your employment status. Once you cease to be employed, it's likely that you also cease to be in lawful status, and will begin accruing unlawful presence -- a result to be avoided if you wish to leave the U.S. and return without being found inadmissible. 

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to apply for another status. There are a number of different options. Depending on the individual circumstances, you may qualify for another category. The most direct option, if it is available, would be as a dependant of your spouse, and you can change to H-4 status.

Other option is to apply for student status (F-1), if you wish to return to school to further educations. This can be a good option, as people often choose to enhance their skills during difficult economic times. There are those who may choose to depart the U.S. and look for options in their home countries or elsewhere. These individuals may be eligible to apply for changes of status to tourist (B-2) in order to wrap up their affairs in the United States.

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