Friend laid off on work visa, how long does he have? --US

My friend from China was recently laid off from his US job. He was here first on a student visa and then a work visa. How much time does he have to find a new job here before he is illegal? He has not notified any government agency as to his change in employment status and he was laid off about 3 weeks ago. Also, if he becomes illegal here and then becomes a Canadian citizen can he then renter the US to visit?
Straight clear answers would be appreciated. Thanks!

What kind of work visa is it? There are some visas that are specific to the location, some specific to the company and some not.

For instance when I worked for Starwood, we had 10 people on our payroll who didn’t work for Starwood. What happened is their visa was specific to Starwood and let’s say they went to Wyndham. Starwood would pay their salary and Wyndham would reimburse Starwood., so technically they were working for Starwood. But ironically the benefits like, 401K and Vacation are paid thru Wyndham.

This is “barely legal” but the hotel companies do it quite alot, since their situation depends on immigrants legal and illegal.

Other people I know, like my former boss has a working visa that entitles him to work here without being subject to a specific company or location.

By location, I mean some visas are so restrictive it may say you can work at the Westin in Chicago ONLY. And no other STARWOOD property. Those were commonly for foreign interns that came to work on the property for 6 months to 18 months.

What kind of work visa does your friend have?

If he has an H-1B (which I will assume for the moment, as it’s the most likely category in the scenario you have described), technically there is no grace period whatsoever written either into the law or the regulations before he is out of status. (There is a common misconception that there is a grace period of anywhere from 10-60 days, but that is not true.)

As a matter of practice, though, if he gets another job offer and the new employer files a new H-1B petition for him very quickly, USCIS might overlook a short period of unemployment. In many cases, though, they will come back and ask for pay stubs to prove that there were no gaps in employment.

There are some complicated legal strategy things that can be done to get an H-1B approved with a new employer without getting your friend into trouble, but I’d need to know more specifics.

If your friend becomes a Canadian, citizen, he should be able to enter the U.S. on the same terms as any other Canadian citizen; any prior immigration violations won’t be ërased,"though, by any means. The main thing he should watch out for at the moment is not remaining in the U.S. out of status for 180 days or more, because he can be barred from re-entry for 3 years. If he is here illegally for 365 days or more, he can be barred for 10 years. More details on request. I suggest he speak to a lawyer who specializes in employment-based immigration law. Will his former employer (or their lawyer) give him some advice, if nothing else? My office does that in this situation routinely.

Eva Luna, Immigration Paralegal