Department of Homeland Security regulations were modified on January 17, 2017 to incorporate a new grace period to enhance job portability for individuals in E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1, O-1, and TN status. This was part of the Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers regulation that was completed under President Obama.
This grace period allows high-skilled workers in these classifications, including those whose employment ceases prior to the end of the petition validity period, to more readily pursue new employment should they be eligible for other employer-sponsored nonimmigrant classifications or employment in the same classification with a new employer. The grace period also allows U.S. employers to more easily facilitate changes in employment for existing or newly recruited nonimmigrant workers.
The 60-day grace period is intended to provide needed flexibility to qualifying nonimmigrants that face termination of employment prior to the end of their petition validity periods. For example, the grace period may allow the worker to remain in the United States without violating status and potentially obtain new job offers. In this situation, even though prior employment may have terminated several weeks prior to the filing of the a petition, DHS may consider the worker to have maintained status and allow the worker to extend status with a new employer. If the new employer’s petition is granted, the individual may be eligible for an additional grace period of up to 60 days in connection with the new authorized validity period.
An individual may benefit from the 60-day grace period multiple times during his or her total time in the United States; however, this grace period may only apply one time per authorized nonimmigrant validity period. Also note that the 60-day grace period must be used in a single period of consecutive days during the relevant authorized validity period, and the time can be reduced to less than 60 days where the existing validity period is shorter or the circumstances warrant a shorter period. Unused days may not be used later in the same authorized validity period or carried over into a subsequent validity period. Also, be aware that the individual may not work during the grace period or use the grace period to start a business.