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What You Really Want to Know | Episode #12 | I am in the U.S. on a Temporary Work Visa, if I get fired or quit my job will I have to immediately leave the U.S.?


Transcript: Hi, I am Attorney Shaffer. Today on “What You Really Want to Know,” we answer the question, “I am in the U.S. on a temporary work visa, if I get fired or quit my job will I have to immediately leave the U.S.?”

The answer is, it depends on the type of temporary work visa that you have, but generally speaking, temporary work visas require that you remain employed with the employer who petitioned for you.

So if you are fired or quit your job, you must immediately leave the country. If you do not, you will be in violation of the immigration law and you will begin to accrue unlawful presence, thereby potentially jeopardizing your future in the U.S.

A common misunderstanding that we come across with foreign workers is an individual who assumes that the entire time that USCIS has authorized that person to remain in the US to perform those specific job duties, means that their guaranteed that job for that entire time. The fact is, unless you have a contract with your employer that specifically states that you cannot be let go before a certain date, you are, under U.S. law, considered an at-will employee. This means that either you and your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any non-discriminatory reason.

If you are looking to switch employers in the U.S., most visa categories require a new petition is filed by your new employer. Generally speaking, this petition must be filed before your go out of status and you usually cannot begin working for the new employer until that petition is approved. Unfortunately, many foreign workers do not realize these facts and become scared and overwhelmed when they face the harsh reality of unemployment. And this is especially true if you are fired or laid off without any real notice. And there are all sorts of reasons why it is difficult to leave this country right away, especially if you have been here for a year even 2 or more years before you find out that you are let go. For example, you may need someone to take over your lease, if you have been here for awhile, you may have a lot of stuff and you need to get that stuff back home and you have to make arrangements. Maybe you have already committed to a number of different events or activities such as weddings, birthday parties, conventions or conferences. Depending on the country that you are from, it may not be a real possibility or even possible at all for you to go back and re-enter the U.S. to take care of those things or attend those events.

The good news is, the experienced immigration attorneys at The Shapiro Law Firm can help determine what, if any, avenues are available to you to help you remain in the U.S.. We often change people’s status to another nonimmigrant categories, like a visitor, to give them more time to wrap up their affairs.

The most important thing you can do, is that the second you find out that you are going to no longer be employed or that you are looking to switch employers, regardless of why, that you contact an experienced immigration attorney to see if you are required to immediately depart the U.S., and if so, if you can file an application to help you temporarily remain here to wrap up your affairs. If you fall out of status, you subject yourself to permanent bars to legal status in the United States for both work- and family-based visas.

That is all for this episode of “What You Really Want To Know,” thanks for watching!

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