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Immigration Consequences of Temporary Layoffs/Furloughs

U.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by the employee, employers with H-1B employees are required to continue to pay H-1B employees until the petition is withdrawn. 

© 2020 Varnum LLP


About this Author

Kimberly A. Clarke, Varnum, Immigration Lawyer

Kim focuses her practice on immigration matters, including nonimmigrant petitions, both employment- and family-based permanent residence applications, expatriation and foreign visa issues. She has developed a strong background in the area of worker verification issues and managed clients through internal and agency Form I-9 audits, USICE compliance investigations and civil criminal charges.

In addition, Kim maintains a specialty practice of consultation with agricultural clients and handles various agricultural labor and employment issues such as compliance with...

Nina A. Thekdi, immigration lawyer, Varnum

Nina focuses her practice on business and family-based immigration matters.  Her experience encompasses nonimmigrant visa petitions including H-1B visas, L-1A and L-1B visas, TN visas under the NAFTA treaty, and O-1 visas. She also assists clients with employment-based permanent residence petitions including the labor certifications process, EB-1 extraordinary ability, EB-1 outstanding professor and researchers and EB-1 multinational managers and executives petitions; family-based permanent residence applications; naturalization applications; and foreign visa issues.   She guides clients through the process of obtaining short-term visas and permanent residence status for skilled personnel, including technical professionals, accountants, scientists, managers and executives.  Nina also provides counsel regarding effective immigration compliance programs.

Yvonne Kupfermann Employment Lawyer Varnum Law Firm Grand Rapids

Yvonne focuses her practice primarily on employment and family-based immigration in addition to general corporate matters. She assists clients with employment and family-based permanent residence petitions, including the labor certification process, visas for extraordinary ability, and multinational managers and executives petitions. She focuses on visa processing, waivers, DACA and citizenship matters. Additionally, she has experience in general corporate matters, including LLC formation.