What happens if you lose your job on a work visa? (2024)

what happens if you lose your job on a work visa
Facundo Bermudez
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Published on 16 Apr 2024 Time to read 9 min read Last update on 23 Apr 2024

In an era of shifting job markets and economic uncertainties, the fear of losing one’s job looms larger, especially for those navigating employment on a work visa. The questions often arise: What happens to your visa if you find yourself suddenly without employment? What happens if you lose your job on a work visa? Whether you’re on an H-1B visa or another nonimmigrant work visa, the implications of job loss can be daunting.

But fret not, as this article is your guide through the maze of uncertainties. Losing your job is undeniably stressful, particularly when it’s entwined with your immigration status. However, understanding your options and potential alternatives can alleviate some of that anxiety. Join us as we explore the pathways available to nonimmigrant workers following termination of employment, shedding light on visa alternatives such as the E-2 visa, O-1 visa, and EB-5 visa. So, if you’re facing the prospect of a layoff while on a work visa, fear not—we’re here to help you navigate the challenges ahead.

What happens if you lose your job on a work visa?

If you find yourself facing a visa layoff and lose your job on H-1B, it’s crucial to understand the immediate implications. Firstly, losing your job on H-1B means you are immediately considered “out of status” in the United States. This holds true not only for the H-1B visa but also for other work visa categories like L and O visas.

The stipulation for maintaining lawful status under the H-1B visa category is contingent upon continuous employment. Therefore, a lost job on H-1B can swiftly put your immigration status at risk. This may prompt concerns about whether you need to leave the country. However, the situation isn’t necessarily black and white. While losing your job on H-1B does render you out of status, the next steps aren’t predetermined. There may be avenues to explore before considering departure, which we’ll delve into later in this article.

What is the 60-day rule for H-1B visas?

The 60-day rule for H-1B visa holders provides a vital safety net during times of transition. This regulation grants a discretionary grace period to individuals employed under specific nonimmigrant classifications, including H-1B, allowing them and their dependents to maintain status for up to 60 consecutive calendar days or until the end of the authorized nonimmigrant validity period, whichever is shorter.

This grace period, known as the “maximum 60-day grace period,” affords workers the opportunity to navigate changes in employment or unexpected job loss without immediately jeopardizing their immigration status.

During this period, individuals can preserve their authorized stay in the United States by timely filing certain applications, such as a change of nonimmigrant status or an adjustment of status. Crucially, the 60-day grace period commences the day after termination of employment, typically marked by the final day of receiving salary or wages, and it applies equally to both voluntary and involuntary cessation of employment.

What options do I have if I’ve lost my job?

Option 1: The E-2 visa

The E-2 visa is particularly advantageous for individuals hailing from countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. This treaty country requirement ensures that applicants must be citizens of countries with treaties with the U.S., thus restricting eligibility to specific nationalities. When considering the investment aspect, it’s important to note that a substantial investment is required. We always recommend a minimum amount of $100,000 in order to increase approval chances and present a strong petition.

To apply for the E-2 visa, individuals typically need to submit Form DS-160, the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, along with supporting documentation demonstrating their eligibility and investment plans. To change your status from another work visa type to an E-2 visa, you need to file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.

Additionally, if USCIS approves your petition for the E-2 visa before your I-94 expiration date, you can smoothly transition your legal status to an E-2 visa, providing further stability and flexibility in your immigration journey.

How can we help you?

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With an approval rate exceeding 95%, our track record speaks volumes. Whether you’re eyeing franchise ownership, contemplating starting your own venture, or considering the acquisition of an existing business, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

Or, maybe you are facing the challenge of job loss and seeking to remain in the United States? Rest assured, we’ve assisted numerous clients in similar predicaments with successful outcomes.

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Option 2: The EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 visa stands as another compelling alternative for individuals who have experienced job loss while on a work visa like the H-1B. This program requires applicants to invest a significant sum, typically ranging from $800,000 to $1,000,000, into a qualifying business venture in the United States.

However, the EB-5 program offers distinct advantages, including the ability to file for adjustment of status and receive work authorization while the green card application is pending. This unique feature provides applicants with the opportunity to maintain legal status and continue their professional pursuits in the U.S. while awaiting the outcome of their immigration process.

Option 3: The O-1 Visa

The O-1 visa serves as a valuable avenue for individuals and entrepreneurs with extraordinary abilities in various fields, including science, business, art, education, athletics, and the motion picture and television industry. This nonimmigrant visa offers a unique opportunity for talented individuals to continue their pursuits in the United States, whether they excel in groundbreaking research, innovative entrepreneurship, award-winning performances, or influential artistic endeavors. With two distinct subcategories, O-1A and O-1B, this visa caters to individuals excelling in different domains.

O-1A is tailored for those with extraordinary ability in business, science, education, or athletics, encompassing roles such as entrepreneurs, esteemed professors, researchers, CEOs, medical specialists, and data scientists, among others.

Meanwhile, O-1B caters to individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or notable achievements on the TV, motion picture, or film industry, including award-winning directors, acclaimed actors, culinary innovators, influential fashion designers, acclaimed dancers and choreographers, and renowned visual artists.

At Visa Franchise, we specialize in assisting STEM professionals in securing their O-1 visa, serving as your dedicated sponsor and handling all paperwork, including optimizing your LinkedIn and GitHub profiles. Trust us for a hassle-free process, as we connect you with recruiters and guide you every step of the way. If you’re interested in learning more, click here to download our free guide.

Option 4: B-1/B2 Tourist Visa

If you opt for this route, you can request a change of status by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, allowing you up to six months in the U.S. as a B-2 tourist. While approval of this request is discretionary and not guaranteed by USCIS, it provides an opportunity to maintain your status while awaiting the processing of your Form I-539. However, if USCIS denies your visa transfer request, you’ll have 30 days to depart the country, after which you’ll be considered unlawfully present in the U.S.

Moreover, transitioning your status to a B-1/B-2 travel visa enables you to continue your job search within the United States. According to USCIS regulations, activities such as searching for employment and attending job interviews are permissible under the B-1/B-2 visa category. This flexibility allows you to stay in the U.S. and buy additional time to explore new employment opportunities and potentially secure sponsorship for another work visa in the future.

Option 5: Spousal Path

If your spouse holds U.S. citizenship or a U.S. green card, there’s another avenue available: pursuing the spousal path. This route involves applying for an adjustment of status and obtaining a marriage-based green card, providing a pathway to legal residency in the United States. Even if your immigration status has lapsed, or you’ve exceeded your I-94 expiration date, this option remains viable.

Spouses of U.S. citizens are categorized as “immediate relatives” by USCIS, affording them specific privileges such as concurrent filing. This entails submitting Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, alongside Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, streamlining the process and potentially expediting your application for permanent residency. By embracing the spousal path, you can solidify your legal standing in the United States and embark on a shared future with your U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse.


As we have just seen, there are plenty of options if you find yourself in a position where you’ve lost your job on a work visa. While the prospect may seem daunting, understanding these alternatives can provide reassurance and a clear path forward.

If you’re interested in exploring one of these opportunities further, don’t hesitate to contact us or fill out the following form to start the process and see if you’re eligible for a free 30-minute discovery call with our team of experts.

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Mentioned visas

EB2-NIW (green card)

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

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E2 Visa

An employment-based visa intended for those who either have an advanced degrees or exceptional ability

Access E-2 visa details