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Amid tech layoffs, US sub-committee urges extension of grace period to 180 days

In response to the ongoing tech layoffs, the US presidential advisory sub-committee has recommended extending the grace period for H1-B workers who have lost jobs to 180 days, from the existing 60, to enable them to find a new job or other alternatives.

The immigration subcommittee has recommended to the Department of Homeland Security and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to extend the grace period for laid-off H1-B workers, Ajay Jain Bhutoria, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, said on Tuesday.

In his presentation, Bhutoria highlighted the significant challenges faced by H1-B workers who were laid off. The current 60-day grace period presents numerous hurdles, including the need to find a new job within a tight timeframe, complex paperwork for transferring H1-B status, and delays in processing at USCIS, he said.

As a result, many H1-B workers are forced to leave the country, which could result in a loss of skilled labour for the US, he told members of the advisory commission.

Bhutoria advocated for the extension of the grace period, citing the need to support highly skilled tech employees who, he said, were essential to the economic growth of the US. The extension would also provide the affected employees more time to navigate the complex and time-consuming process of finding new employment and transferring their H1-B status, he said.

Members of the commission, recognising the importance of supporting and retaining highly skilled tech employees, supported the move.

H1-B visa holders face significant consequences when they are laid off from their jobs. After termination, they have a 60-day grace period, during which they must either leave the US, or seek a change of immigration status, or have another employer file an H1-B petition on their behalf. In the absence of these steps, they are considered to be in violation of the terms of their non-immigrant visa.

However, if a new employer files an H1-B petition for the visa holder within 60 days of a previous employer’s termination, the change of employer petition will typically be granted even if there was a gap in the employee’s H1-B status.

Bhutoria argued that the 60-day period is too little for tech workers to find new jobs. However, the presidential committee’s recommendations are yet to be codified. 

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