Worried About Layoffs in Your Industry? Take Action Now!
Those of us who are based in Houston have been hearing about layoffs in the Oil and Gas industry for the past year. Since the price of oil has continued to be low, companies have cut their workforce. This is a particularly tough situation for anyone in the United States on a work visa—if these individuals are laid off, they may have to return to their home country, often with little notice.
The options for people whose status is dependent on their employment can be limited as their presence in the United States is premised on them remaining employed with their sponsoring employer. However, there are a few short and long-term options for people who may be concerned that a layoff may be coming.
Short Term Options:Some visas allow a person to change to a different employer if they have a different job offer. The H-1B visa is a common example, but other visas may allow for a change of employer as well. If you are concerned that you may be laid off or receive notice that you will be laid off, seeking a new employer may allow you to stay in the United States (or return within a relatively short period of time).
If you are notified that you are being laid off, the news can come suddenly or without warning. Often, people who have been working in the United States have invested in a home, or have vehicles, bank accounts, and other assets that need to be taken care of. If changing to a new employer is not an option, changing status to visitor is another option to allow more time to dispose of personal effects before a person leaves the United States.
Long Term Options:For people whose goal is to stay in the U.S. long term, I check to see if there is a possibility to self-petition for residence. The self-petition process often involves a showing that a person has extraordinary ability in his field, or that the work he does is in the national interest of the United States. Although it might sound like this is limited to people who have received significant recognition, this is not necessarily the case—there are lots of ways for a person to show that he has made the types of achievements to show extraordinary ability, and or to show that a person’s work is in the national interest.
Filing a self-petition may allow a person to return to the United States in the future and in some circumstances, may allow him to remain in the United States. Lots of work and research go into a successful self-petition, so it is important to work with an experienced attorney if this is an option you wish to explore.
If you are not a United States citizen or a permanent resident, and you are concerned that you may be affected by a layoff, find out now what options you have so that you can know where you stand.
Kathryn Karam is the managing attorney of The Law Office of Kathryn N. Karam, P.C., an immigration focused law firm located in Houston, Texas. She is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Call at (832) 582-0620 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Kathryn Karam was published on page 61 of the December issue of the Lebanon Times. Access the Lebanon Times article here.