Due to the recent events of the coronavirus outbreak, unemployment rates have skyrocketed. Losing a job can be incredibly stressful and current O-1 “extraordinary ability” visa holders may find themselves in an especially tough situation. The options available are circumstantial for each individual O-1 Visa holder, but here are some considerations to proceed with the job loss.
I am an O-1 Visa holder, and I lost my job. What do I do?
Each case is different and will require a different call for action. For instance, if the O-1 visa was obtained through your employer and you are no longer employed with that employer, you may need to leave the country immediately or file a new O-1 visa petition. For most cases, O-1 visa holders who have lost their jobs may be permitted to file a new petition and/or stay in the U.S. for 60 days or until their visa expiration date (depending on which is sooner) to sort things out. However, it is advised all visa holders try and find a way to maintain status for as long as possible before the said 60 days have passed; one of the following must be established:
- Find a new form of employment
- File a petition for a new visa
- Leave the US
During the 60 day grace period, some O-1 visa holders may receive certain unemployment benefits depending on the specifics of their case, but they will not be able to continue receiving benefits after the 60 days are over. If you have multiple jobs but lose one, and you find that you are eligible for benefits, it is encouraged that you continue to work before applying for any unemployment benefits. Moreover, applying for unemployment benefits will not directly affect the “public charge” rule, but may be taken into consideration if reapplying for a non-immigrant visa in the future. The reason filing for unemployment is not advisable is because O visas specifically relies on the work to be valid. So being unable to maintain a job could be seen as “failure to maintain status.” Please speak to an attorney to see if applying for unemployment might be considered as a violation of your visa.
Potential eligible applicants must prove that they have been working under an authorized status and this must be verifiable by the USCIS.
Stimulus checks may only be received if you are a US resident and filed taxes for the year 2018 and/or 2019.
If you have found out that you are eligible for unemployment benefits, you may apply by filing an unemployment claim with the Department of Labor to begin an application.
As mentioned above, there are many uncertainties going forward. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to reach out to an attorney for any additional information and guidance specific to your case. If you have any questions, please contact us or directly call us at (646) 405-9846.