A federal agency said on March 22 that an individual entering the country on a business or tourist visa (B-1 or B-2) is eligible to apply for new positions and even appear for interviews, but advised prospective employers to renew the applicant's visa status before they join the new position.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stated in a statement and a series of tweets that nonimmigrant workers who are laid off may not be aware of their options and may, in certain cases, mistakenly believe they have no choice but to depart the country within 60 days.
The maximum 60-day grace period begins on the first day following the day on which employment is terminated, which is often based on the final day for which a salary or wage was paid.
If eligible, a nonimmigrant worker who has had their employment terminated, whether willingly or involuntarily, may take one of various options to continue to be in the country for an authorised period of time.
That includes submitting an application for a change in nonimmigrant status, an application for a change in status, an application for an employment authorization document with "compelling circumstances," or being the recipient of a nonfrivolous petition to change employer.
"If one of these actions occurs within the up to 60-day grace period, the nonimmigrant's period of authorized stay in the United States can exceed 60 days, even if they lose their previous nonimmigrant status," the USCIS said.
If the worker takes no action within the grace period, they and their dependents may then need to depart the United States within 60 days, or when their authorized validity period ends, whichever is shorter, it said.
"Many people have asked if they can look for a new job while in B-1 or B-2 status. The answer is, yes. Searching for employment and interviewing for a position are permissible B-1 or B-2 activities," the US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a series of tweets.
The USCIS emphasised, however, that a petition and request for a change of status from B-1 or B-2 to an employment-authorized status must be approved and the new status must take effect before beginning any new work.
"Alternatively, if the change of status request is denied or the petition for new employment requested consular or port of entry notification, the individual must depart the U.S. and be admitted in an employment-authorized classification before beginning the new employment," the USCIS said.