Good News For Indian H-1B & L-1 Visa Holders: Laid-Off Employees Get This Big Update From US Govt


Rohit Kulkarni

Rohit Kulkarni

Jun 17, 2023


Every cloud has a silver living, and the same adage applies to the new policy that has been devised by the United States for those Indian immigrants who have lost their jobs. 

Good News For H-1B & L-1 Visa Applicants For US: Laid-Off Employees Get This Big Update From US Govt

Amidst the uncertainty caused by recent layoffs in major tech companies, Indian immigrants in the United States have found a glimmer of hope as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has introduced a new policy, PA-2023-18, which outlines guidelines for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) during challenging circumstances.

New Policy Framework

The new policy framework establishes a legal pathway for individuals who have approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions but face delays due to visa availability backlogs. This reform holds significant importance for Indian workers in the United States, as it aims to mitigate the disruptive impact of unexpected job loss or unfavourable situations that could jeopardize their immigration status.

The policy will be particularly beneficial for Indians residing in the United States, as many of them are stuck in the green card backlog for EB-2/3 visas, which can extend over a century. Losing a job under these circumstances typically allows a 60-day window to find new employment or risk having to leave the country, despite having spent a decade or more there and establishing a life.

The recent policy shift by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) holds potential benefits primarily for Indian professionals working in the US under H-1B or L-1 non-immigrant visas. According to the updated provisions outlined in the USCIS press statement, these individuals can now apply for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) in certain compelling circumstances. These circumstances include serious illness or disability, employer disputes or retaliation, significant harm to the applicant, or major disruptions to the employer.

The introduction of this policy serves as a safety net for Indian immigrants, who often face uncertainty regarding sudden job loss. It ensures their financial stability while they navigate towards more secure opportunities. The policy also specifies the types of evidence that applicants can provide to demonstrate compelling circumstances. This evidence may include school or higher education enrolment records, as well as mortgage documents to substantiate potential hardships such as selling property at a loss, disrupting children’s education, or relocating to India.

This directive from the USCIS demonstrates a practical approach to addressing the challenges faced by immigrant workers, particularly those from India, who constitute a significant portion of the US IT workforce. Furthermore, the policy emphasizes that individuals with a valid EAD based on compelling circumstances will not accrue unlawful presence, protecting them from sudden disruptions in their journey towards obtaining permanent residency.

Furthermore, this move bolsters the sense of security for the families of these professionals, their dependents, too, can apply for EADs based on compelling circumstances, adding another layer of assurance in an otherwise complex immigration landscape.

Eligibility Criteria

According to the details mentioned in the policy the eligibility criteria extends to applicants who are principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd employment-based preference category.

Applicant needs to be on a valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 non-immigrant status or authorized grace period when they file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Click here to know more about eligibility.


Rohit Kulkarni
Rohit Kulkarni
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