H-1B visa status will remain even in case of job loss and having to leave the US

Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the number of Indian students choosing the United States as their destination for university study. The US Mission to India recently announced that 82,000 student visas have been issued in 2022 and that Indians have received more US student visas than any other country. Even as the number of Indian students going to US schools has increased, the number of optional practical training statuses has also increased dramatically over the past few years. For Indian students, OPT is an option to work in the United States after finishing school. According to the November 2020 Open Doors survey, which tracks the number of international students, there were 81,173 Indian students enrolled in the OPT program in the United States.
But now that thousands of people have lost their jobs across the United States; Indian students who have started working in the US during their OPT period, or received an H-1B work permit from their employer after they complete OPT, are also facing challenges. problem. OPT is temporary work directly related to the candidate’s main area of ​​study. Students on an F-1 visa who complete their course of study in the United States do not need a job offer to apply for OPT. An applicant may work for multiple employers or jobs, but all employment must be related to the degree program in which he or she studied. Employment must be a minimum of 20 hours per week.
Emily NeumannManaging partner at law firm Reddy & Neumann, one of the largest immigration law firms in Houston, focused exclusively on US employment-based immigration, has some good news for Indians who have graduated from US colleges and are near This may cause job loss. In most cases, losing a job doesn’t mean the immigration journey to the United States has to end, she said. “Even if someone may have to move outside the United States due to a job loss, it is usually only a temporary situation,” she said. The Age of India. In fact, many people who recently converted from F-1 to H-1B won’t have to go through the H-1B lottery anymore even if they eventually have to leave the country, she said. “New employers can file a new H-1B petition that is not “limited” and get approval for consular processing to regain any remaining time towards the six-year limit. for H-1B visas. If the individual already has a valid visa stamp from a previous employer, they can use it to return to the United States to work for the new employer once this new petition is approved,” she said. This can help take at least some of the stress out of the situation.
Notably, H-1B visa applications are limited and must be submitted within the first five days of April to compete for the 65,000 vacancies. After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fills 65,000 limited-topical vacancies, another 20,000 visa applications will be selected in a lottery for graduates of U.S. universities. Have a master’s degree or higher.
For Indian students who are in OPT but worried about current job situation; Neumann felt that they should think twice before planning to leave the US. “There are many types of work allowed during the first 12 months of OPT, if the work is related to the student’s field of study. “Students with an F-1 visa may find it easier to find part-time work or unpaid training. “Short-term gigs, contract work and even self-employment are allowed,” she said. Students sometimes start their own business in their field or work part-time for a professor during OPT. However, Neumann has a word of caution about the hiring rules for those in OPT STEM [science, technology, engineering & maths] extension period, a maximum of 24 months is allowed. The job must be paid, the job must use E-Verify, the training plan must be completed, and the employer must supervise during this time. “Students should also be wary of unscrupulous employers who offer job offers but don’t have actual work,” she said.
Yet another option for students is to consider additional studies. F-1 visa holders are granted a “term of status” that allows them to remain in the United States as long as the student’s Form I-20 is correct and has not expired. This makes it easier for students to change programs or schools and can help students who lost their jobs during OPT have the ability to return to school to continue their studies. However, students should choose schools and programs carefully, and be wary of those with minimum entry requirements, which offer immediate employment through hands-on extracurricular training, Neumann warned.
There is also the issue of lengthy delays in processing H-1B visas in India at US Embassies and Consulates. Students under OPT, who have not yet requested a change of status to H-1B, may continue to remain in the United States pending their visa issuance as long as the OPT has not expired and they comply with the terms and conditions of the OPT. student visa. They can also stay in the United States under their current status while waiting for a visa appointment. Students may consider waiving the visa process by asking their employer to apply for a change of status.
While waiting times for appointments are improving, it can still take two to four months at consulates in India. Persons in the United States on other status, including student visas, at the time of filing the H-1B petition; are generally eligible for a change of status so that they do not need to apply for a new visa at the consulate unless they intend to travel.
For those who have not had H-1B status or H-1B visas in the past, for-profit employers must go through a lottery process. However, if the employer is a higher education institution (or related nonprofit), nonprofit research institution, or government research institution, the employer Workers can get a limited exemption, which means they don’t need to file in the lottery and can sponsor an H-1B worker at any time of the year. Those considering working for an exempt employer to avoid the H-1B lottery process should note that if they want to change their employer to a for-profit organization in the future, they will need to have to go through the lottery. “However, it is possible to work for both an exempt employer and a limited employer at the same time without going through a lottery through a concurrent job application,” says Neumann.


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