Job Loss Due to Recession Will Not Affect Your H-1B Visa Status
The US has been a popular study abroad destination for Indian students for several years now. In 2022, the US mission in India issued 82,000 student visas to the US. Indian students form a large part of the foreign student population in the US. As the number of students opting for the US as a study abroad destination goes up, the number of students choosing optional practical training (OPT) has increased, too. The OPT allows these students to work in the US after the completion of their studies. An Open Doors Survey conducted in November 2020 confirmed that almost 81,173 Indian students were pursuing OPT in the US at the time.
With the recession looming in the US, this situation has slightly changed. Many Indian students who are awarded H1-B work permits by their employers after the completion of OPT are facing problems. OPT is temporary employment, taken up by the student based on his/her area of the study. A student can work for one or multiple employers during the OPT period. However, the only requirement is that the employment must be related to a student’s field of study. A student must undertake minimum of 20-hour week employment. These students can also take up contract work, short time gigs, and self-employment to meet their expenses.
There is some good news for students – if you have recently converted your F-1 visa to H-1B visa, and have to leave the country due to job loss, still you need not go through the H-1B lottery process again for re-entry. The maximum duration for H-1B visa is usually 6 years. It is initially issued for three years and can be extended to another three years, depending on the requirement. So, if you plan to restart working in the US after staying in your country for some months or years following the job loss, your new employer can easily file a new H-1B visa petition without subjected to the cap. Through this, they can attempt to recapture any time that may be left towards the six-year limit. A student who possesses a valid visa from his/her previous employer can use it for returning to the US and start working for a new employer once the new petition gets approved.
The H-1B visa applications are capped and are usually filled in the first week of April, preferably the first five days. There are 65,000 application slots available. When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fills 65,000 slots, another 20,000 slots are opened. Generally, these slots are reserved for students who have completed their master’s degrees from prestigious or reliable US universities.
Any student on F-1 visa can obtain unpaid training or seek part-time employment during their initial 12-month period of OPT. The students from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) background get an additional 12-month period than regular students. Unlike regular students, these students must ensure that they only take up paid employment, and complete training under the supervision of the employer. The employment must be E-verified to avoid hassles.
The students who lost their jobs while on the OPT can take up additional courses to extend their stay in the country. However, they should choose programs and schools carefully. They shouldn’t fall prey to schools with minimal entrance requirements and ensure immediate jobs through curricular practical training (CPT). The students who have applied for H-1B visa may have a waiting period of two to four months at consulates in India. They can remain in the US until their OPT expires. The students can also forgo their visa process by requesting their current employers to file the status change petition.
Who is a Cap-exempt Employer in the US?
A student applying for the H-1B for the first time must undergo the lottery process. An employer is cap-exempted if they are any of the following:
- An institution of higher education
- A government or non-profit research organization
- A non-profit organization associated with the university or the institution of higher education
A student who is considering working with a cap-exempt employer needs to undergo a lottery process, in case, he or she plans to work for-profit organization in the future. A student can take up employment with a cap-subject and cap-exempt employer concurrently by filing a petition.
Are you planning for higher studies in the US? This news is a sigh of relief considering the updates pouring in from the US. It is critical to have a well thought out plan regarding your education and career abroad. Connect with the experts at Collegepond and construct a strategic roadmap for your future in the US. Book your FREE one-to-one appointment with our professional counsellors now!