U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is providing information for nonimmigrant workers whose employment has terminated, either voluntarily or involuntarily. These workers may have several options for remaining in the United States in a period of authorized stay based on existing rules and regulations.
Below is a compilation of options that may be available to nonimmigrant workers seeking to remain in the United States in a period of authorized stay following termination. Please note that not all options below provide employment authorization.
1) 60-Day Grace Period :
Regulations permit a discretionary grace period that allows workers in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B,
H-1B1, L-1, O-1, or TN classifications (and their dependents) to be considered as having maintained status following the cessation of employment for up to 60 consecutive calendar days or until the end of the authorized validity period, whichever is shorter (See 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2)).
2) Portability to a New Employer :
Portability rules permit workers currently in H-1B status to begin working for a new employer as soon as the employer properly files a new H-1B petition with USCIS, without waiting for the petition to be approved. More information about H-1B portability can be found on our H-1B Specialty Occupations page.
3) Change of Status :
Workers may use the up to 60-day discretionary grace period to apply to change their nonimmigrant status, which may include changing status to become the dependent of a spouse (e.g., H-4, L-2). Some individuals in a dependent nonimmigrant status may be eligible for employment authorization incident to status, including spouses of E-1, E-2, E-3, or L-1 nonimmigrants (See USCIS Policy Manual). In addition, some spouses of H-1B workers may be eligible for work employment authorization if certain requirements are met.
4) Change of Status and Employer :
Workers may use the up to 60-day discretionary grace period to seek a new employer-sponsored nonimmigrant status in the same or different status. For example, depending on the specific facts presented, an L-1 worker may be eligible for new employment under the TN, E-3, or H-1B1 classifications.
5) Adjustment of Status :
Some workers may be eligible to file a self-petitioned immigrant visa petition concurrently with an adjustment of status application. Examples of immigrant classifications that are eligible for self-petitioning include EB-1 Extraordinary Ability, EB-2 National Interest Waiver, or EB-5 Immigrant Investors.
6) Period of Authorized Stay – Compelling Circumstances Employment Authorization Document :
Workers who are the beneficiary of an approved employment-based immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) may be eligible for a compelling circumstances EAD for up to one year if they:
- do not have an immigrant visa available to them in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin, and
- face compelling circumstances.
7) Expedite Criteria :
Some circumstances may warrant expedited adjudication, including applications to change status to a dependent status that includes eligibility for employment authorization. For example, an application to change status from H-1B to L-2 may be eligible for expedited adjudication to prevent severe financial loss. See the How to Make an Expedite Request page for additional information.
8) Departure from the United States :
Workers may choose to depart the United States. For H-1B and O workers who chose to depart the United States after involuntary cessation of employment, the reasonable costs of transportation to the worker’s last place of foreign residence must be borne by the H-1B employer or by the O employer and O petitioner, as applicable (See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(4)(iii)(E) and 8 CFR 214.2(o)(16)).