Coping With Loss of Status in a Crisis


The Covid-19 crisis has created visa issues for plenty of immigrants. H-1B visa workers have lost jobs along with everyone else. Tourists risk overstaying their visa because they can’t get back into their home country. The undocumented face incredible exposure risks without any safety net, and fear putting themselves on ICE’s radar by seeking medical care despite pledges that ICE won’t raid hospitals during this time. 

It’s a time of deep uncertainty, one which can be incredibly stressful for those who are here attempting to pursue the American dream.

Fortunately, there is some good news.

H-1B Visa Holders Can Apply for Extensions

Normally if you lose your job on an H-1B visa you have 60 days both to get a new job and to transfer the visa. Fortunately, you can now extend your stay for up to 8 months with the appropriate application. You can also apply for a change of status such as a B1 or a B2, which is often the best move. 

In addition, you don’t accrue unlawful presence days while an extension of stay (EOS) or change of status (COS) application is pending.

To give yourself the best chance at a successful application you will want to work closely with your immigration attorney. You will want to start the day you lose your job if possible. Otherwise you’ll have to submit credible evidence explaining the reason for the filing delay. You’ll open the door for immigration authorities to deny your application.

Note: if you are legally authorized to work in the United States you can file for Pennsylvania unemployment, even if you are not a US citizen. It does not count against you as a “public charge.” You will need to provide your A-number when you apply. 

Extensions for Other Visas

The government is offering Covid-based visa extensions for nearly every other kind of status as well. Again, the key will be to file on time and to file thoroughly. 

They’re doing nearly everything on a case-by-case basis, but they’re offering a lot more leeway than usual as a result of this crisis. 

Need help?

We’re working remotely during this crisis. Email or call (215) 246-9400. Working with an immigration attorney is your best chance for resolving your Covid-based immigration status in a favorable way in the long term. 

See also:

Covid-19 Continues to Impact Immigration

Covid-19 Won’t Impact Your Green Card

How to Get a Visitor’s Visa Extension


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