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Eonomic Downturn And Layoffs: Part-Time H-1B A Viable Option
December 3, 2011

Prompted by the current economic downturn, we get a number of queries about the advisability and procedure to change full-time H-1Bs to part-time employment.
For an H-1B person, a layoff means he/she has to find another employer to transfer the H-1B right away, or be ready to leave the country in 10 days. The first option is an uphill task in the current economic scene, and the second option is an unpleasant one.
Since most companies intending to layoff H-1B employees have the intention to hire them back when the economy possibly turns around in, say, six to nine months, changing the H-1B position to a part-time one makes sense. That way, the employers can keep the persons on the payroll but at a lower salary proportionate to reduced working hours. USCIS rules permit this, and all it takes is a USCIS approval of an amendment petition. For such petitions, only the basic filing fee ($325) is payable if an extended validity is not asked for.
Some employers ask the question whether they can change the number of hours to a nominal 5 hours per week. We discourage this because USICS will most likely deny such a petition or bombard the employer with a Request for Evidence (RFE). The ability of the H-1B employee to support himself/herself (and dependents, if any) at such a drastically reduced wage level would be the most obvious question.
We always advise our clients to change the working hours to 15 to 20 per week, provided such reduced hours would pay the employees enough to support themselves (and their dependents, if any) in the US.

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