On May 07 2009 by William A. Stock

Terminated Nonimmigrants: What Advice?

An all-to-frequent question we have been answering these days is how to advise a work-based nonimmigrant in H, L, E or similar status who is terminated.

We have a resource for employers and terminated employees specifically written with respect to the H category, and much of the advice in that document, from the employee’s perspective, applies equally to all employment-based nonimmigrants.  The most important rule is that a terminated nonimmigrant does not have any formal “grace period” or fixed period of time during which their status is considered valid.  Nonimmigrants are admitted to the US for a particular activity – workers to work, students to study, visitors to visit – and as soon as they stop that activity, they are out of status.  Note that periods of severance are not periods of employment, and USCIS generally does not regard a person receiving status as being “in status.”

Unfortunately, this rule means terminated nonimmigrants need to deal with the situation immediately – and there is no “one size fits all” solution that we can recommend.  They can seek a change of status to another status they qualify for, such as student status or visitor status; make arrangements to depart as soon as possible; or may have other options depending on their personal situation.  Therefore, the best advice to a terminated nonimmigrant is to refer him or her to one of our attorneys for a detailed consultation, during which we can help develop a strategy to deal with the immigration consequences of the termination.