First things first, remain calm.
Sometimes, things in life beyond our control happen. So consider collecting yourself off the ground and applying some effective strategies and tools to allow yourself to remain positive.
If you are currently in O-1 status and abruptly find yourself out of a job due to being fired or laid off, pursuant to 8 CFR 214.1(l)(2), you have up to 60 days to find new employment (to file a new O-1 with the new employer) or change your status, or until the expiration date of your current I-94, whichever comes first. After that, your legal status ends, which means you have to depart the United States so as to not become out-of-status and subjecting yourself to the possibility of deportation.
The 60-day grace period is a rule that became effective in early 2017. The grace period begins on the day your employment has ended with your petitioning employer. Receiving any severance pay does not extend the start day. This 60-day period is only granted once per visa validation period. Certain conditions may apply depending on certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs.
Note that if you are contemplating resigning from your job for whatever reason that makes your current situation beyond the bearable limits of your patience, the 60 day grace period is also applicable to persons who resign from employment as the 60 day grace period applies to ‘cessation of employment’, which includes resignations.
While looking for a new job, you can request a change in status to allow yourself more time if you cannot find a suitable job within the 60 days. One such option would be to file for a B-1 visa. This is a temporary nonimmigrant visa status, and it can allow you more time in the US—anywhere ranging from six months to one year. However, you are not allowed to engage in any paid, authorized employment. This is only a temporary solution until you can find a new job, which is when you’ll need to file for a new O-1 visa. However, most people who are proactive and well networked seem to have no problem in finding a new job within the 60 day grace period.
When looking for an employer, you want to find one that not only meets your creative aspirations and goals as an artist, but also, one where you will be a good fit to the company culture, workplace environment and most importantly, team dynamics. Don’t rush into a job based purely upon your urgent need to settle your visa status, especially if you are someone who is confident in your extraordinary abilities and achievements. Never ever sell yourself short.
Furthermore, the added advantage of the O-1 is that if you are unable to find a new job that will sponsor your O-1 visa, you are able to file via an agent, which means that you can work for multiple employers, as opposed to just one employer that sponsors your O-1 visa.
Also bear in mind that there may be other alternatives other than the O-1 visa. Depending on your particular situation, your lawyer can discuss with you and let you consider other possible options that may be available to you, whether that be exploring nonimmigrant or immigrant based alternatives. For example, a recent Graphic Designer client approached us on the 55th day after he was laid off by his employer. This meant that there would be less than a week to prepare and file an entire new O-1, which would simply not be possible. Since he was an Australian national, we recommended and processed the E-3 visa available to Australian nationals, as he already had a new job in hand. As he wished to have the freedom to work for multiple employers and be able to negotiate new deals on an ongoing basis rather than being tied down to a single employer, he worked with us to re-file his O-1 via an agent. His O-1 was seamlessly approved.
Regardless of why you’re back on the job market, feel confident in the fact that you have options. As long as you have not violated your legal status in the past, you can and will get through what may be a very stressful situation and be able to come out of the other end on top.
Finally, let’s recap the various steps we discussed above:
Step 1: Remain calm. Remain positive.
Step 2: Look for a new job. Don’t sell yourself short.
Step 3: Consider filing via an agent if you have trouble finding an employer to sponsor your O-1.
Step 4: Discuss & consider other options with your lawyer.
Step 5: Come out on top!
And remember – when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
If you are currently on the O-1 and under imminent threat of losing your job or have already been fired/let go, and would like to learn more about the options available to you, contact us at 718-539-1100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.