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My L-1 Employer Laid Me Off. What Are My Options?

Updated: Nov 2, 2023



You've climbed the corporate ladder, navigated the complexities of multinational business, and finally secured that coveted L-1 visa. But then, the unthinkable happens: you're laid off. Your world starts to spin as you ponder the grim reality. What now? If you're an L-1 visa holder who's been laid off, this article is your lifeline. We'll explore your options and offer a strategic "back-up plan" that could be your saving grace.

The L-1 Visa: A Double-Edged Sword

The L-1 visa is a golden ticket for intracompany transferees, whether you're an L-1A visa holder in a managerial or executive role, or an L-1B visa holder with specialized knowledge. The perks are extraordinary: your employer handles all the visa paperwork, and your L-2 spouse can work without restrictions. But there's a catch. You must have worked abroad for a related company for at least one year within the past three years. This requirement makes transferring your L-1 visa to another U.S. employer impossible, leaving you in a precarious situation if you're laid off.

Risk Management

The H-1B Lottery: A Risky Gamble

If you're considering the H-1B visa as a back-up plan, think twice. The H-1B lottery is a high-stakes game with slim odds. With over 750,000 applicants vying for just 85,000 visas, your chances of winning are less than 20%. Even if you're highly qualified, the odds are not in your favor.

O1 Visa Recommended

The O-1 Visa: Your Best Bet

The O-1 visa offers a more reliable backup plan. The O-1 can be filed by a single employer or, unlike the H-1B, the O-1 can be filed in a way that allows you to work for multiple employers, as long as you work in your area of expertise. For those who work in business or science -related professions, you must meet at least 3 of the following 8 criteria to qualify for O-1 status:

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards.

  • Membership in associations requiring outstanding achievements.

  • Published material about you in professional publications.

  • Participation as a judge of others in your field.

  • Original contributions of major significance in your field.

  • Authorship of scholarly articles.

  • Employment in a high position for a distinguished organization.

  • High salary compared to others in your field.

For those in the arts or film and television, you must meet at least 3 of the following 6 criteria to qualify for O-1 status:

  • Receipt of recognized awards or prizes.

  • Membership in associations requiring exceptional achievements.

  • Published material about you in major publications.

  • A record of success in your field, evidenced by box office receipts or similar metrics.

  • Recognition from experts in your field.

  • A high salary or other substantial remuneration for your services.

L-1 visa holders often meet at least 2 criteria (holding a critical role for distinguished organizations and high salary). Speaking with one of our attorneys may help you meet that third criteria, if you don’t already.

Conclusion: Be Prepared, Not Scared

If you're an L-1 visa holder who's been laid off, don't despair. Your best course of action is to consult with our attorneys at Global Talent Immigration Law Group to develop an O-1 "back-up plan." While we hope you won't need it, it's always better to be prepared than to be caught off guard.

Stay Informed and Connected: Join Our YouTube Community

We understand that navigating the aftermath of a layoff on an L-1 visa can be daunting. That's why we've created a dedicated space on our YouTube channel where you can find comprehensive guidance and support. Our expert-led videos delve into the intricacies of immigration law, offering clear, actionable advice to empower you during this challenging time. Don't miss out on the wealth of knowledge that could make all the difference in your situation. Visit our YouTube channel now to continue your journey with confidence. Like, subscribe, and turn on notifications to stay updated with the latest insights from the forefront of immigration law. Your path to a secure visa status is just a click away.


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