An impromptu race for new employment has begun nationwide in the U.S. tech sector. With Twitter, Meta and Amazon all announcing massive layoffs, tens of thousands of workers, many highly skilled engineers, are scrambling for new employment.  Most people have experienced the stress of not knowing where their next paycheck comes from. Now imagine if once your employment ended, if you had 60 days to get new employment, or you would be forced to leave the country you live in!

This is the situation faced by upwards of 20% of the Tech sector workers recently laid off, including a few SMA clients. The 60-day race to find new employment and visa sponsorship is underway. Here are a few points to keep in mind when looking for a new employer/sponsor if you are a prospective employer looking for a new employee.

  • The 60-day grace period allowing current visa holders to “port” to another employer applies to H-1B, O-1, E-3, TN, H-1B1, and L-1 visas.
  • In the case of L-1 visas, the only opportunity to port is to another company still legally connected to the foreign company for which the person worked previously, e.g., a branch of a subsidiary (cannot be an independent, separate entity).
  • H-1Bs, covering approximately 4/5ths of foreign nationals sponsored who are enduring these layoffs, require that the position be similar, that the degree required for the position be the same or similar, and that a labor conditions application must be certified by the Department of Labor before the H-1B transfer petition can be filed, all within the 60-day window, the same as the E-3 category.
  • O-1 and TN are perhaps the simplest, as the documentation needed to show eligibility does not vary much compared with the petitions used for the most recent sponsorship.

The advantage for US employers looking to pick up foreign talent quickly is that these petitions can be fast-tracked, paying an additional fee for “premium processing,” and should be approved if presented well by an experienced immigration attorney.

For those who cannot secure a new sponsor in time, H-1Bs can be reactivated from outside the U.S. within one year of employment termination without applying via the H-1B lottery system again. For all other categories, no annual caps apply, but the reality is that it is much harder to get a visa sponsor from outside the U.S. than inside.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.