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Immigration Consequences of Temporary Layoffs/Furloughs

March 26, 2020
Immigration Advisory

Person cleaning out their deskU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Labor have not issued any special exceptions or guidance for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 business shutdowns. Employers contemplating temporary layoffs should consider the immigration consequences both to the employer and employees. Generally, employment must continue for an employee to maintain immigration status with a maximum 60-day grace period to find new employment or leave the U.S. after the last day worked. 

Students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) status are permitted a maximum of 150 days of unemployment – up to 90 days total during the initial 12-month OPT period and an additional 60 days for students granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension. 

Aside from exceptions for medical or voluntary leaves initiated by the employee, employers with H-1B employees are required to continue to pay H-1B employees until the petition is withdrawn. 

If you are considering a temporary layoff of employees currently in the U.S. on an employment-based visa status, please contact your Varnum immigration attorney to review the consequences and any necessary steps that should be taken to protect both the employer and the employee.

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