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Sara Itucas Talks H-1B Visa Layoffs, Visa Stimulus Benefits [Video]


Legalpad co-founder and COO, Sara Itucas, talks with Stilt founder and CEO, Rohit Mittal, about H-1B visa layoffs, visa stimulus benefits, and more.

Stilt is a fintech company that focuses on providing credit to immigrants and the underserved. They build products to improve financial inclusion and democratize access to the credit. Stilt is headquartered in San Francisco.

Rohit: Hi everyone I'm Rohit I'm the co-founder and CEO of Stilt and today we have Sara with us again from Legalpad. Hey Sara!

Sara: Hi everyone!

Rohit: Legalpad makes it easier and faster for startup founders and teams to get us work visas so that's what the company does and Sara is the co-founder and COO of Legalpad. Moving on to the first question, so this person says i'm a Canadian citizen: am I impacted by this H-1B visa ban?

Sara: No, Canadians are not. We still have that special relationship with Canada that's not going anywhere.

Rohit: Okay cool simple. Yeah the next one is I'm in the U.S. on an H-1B and was recently laid off. Can Icollect unemployment benefits and can I cash out on my coveted stimulus check?

Sara: Yes so this is actually a really good question we get this question a lot because of something called the public charge rule. Basically you know, a lot of people have been coming to us saying if I actually take advantage of unemployment benefits or if I take advantage of my COVID stimulus check, like actually to cash it out, will the government see me as violating the public charge rule because i'm taking advantage of what is it like public goods?

Rohit: What's a public charge rule?

Sara: If you've confirmed that you've received any public benefits basically, so public benefits like federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, for example. Supplemental security income, all of that stuff temporary assistance. So basically anything that uses you know public money or taxes that would be considered, like, we would need to flag that in a visa petition to show that you've benefited from that as an immigrant. The government basically kind of uses that to determine whether as an immigrant you're likely to become a public charge anytime in the future. You know we've gotten a lot of questions because of all these layoffs and things like that whether accepting unemployment insurance for example, or cashing your stimulus check, or anything like that. The TL;DR of that is you can safely take advantage of those programs because for the unemployment benefits you get that because you pay into it having been employed at a company. It's taken out of your paycheck already. So it's basically you being able to benefit from something you've already been paying into. That's great. And then in terms of this stimulus check, that's not subject to the public charge rule either. You are able to do that because it's the government trying to stimulate the economy. Another thing too, if you've gotten tested for COVID using public resources the government is not going to ding you for that. That's like a public health issue and they want people to stay healthy in the best way.

Rohit: Got it. Okay so and and these things as they are as people are fighting for visa extensions or new new statuses, this is the information that is a part of the application?

Sara: That is, yes.

Rohit: Sounds good, cool. I'm in the U.S. on an H-1B with the Hong Kong passport. How does the recent Hong Kong executive order affect me?

Sara: yeah so basically again if you are already in the U.S. you're probably fine because this really is just an issue for getting that visa sticker your visa sticker validity might be truncated the next time you go for a consulate appointment and try to get a new visa sticker another piece though too and something to keep in mind is that if you are applying for a green card you still actually has a lot of great resources on this talking about priority dates and things like that if you're applying for a green card your priority date will be set according to whatever the prior like the priority dates are for mainland Chinese nationals now which means that the wait time potentially could get longer for you as a result of the most recent executive order ending the Hong Kong preferential visa policies.

Rohit: Okay anything else that we haven't discussed in these questions broadly that people should keep in mind at least until the end of the year while this proclamation?

Sara: Yeah, I think it's one of those things where, let's try to avoid travel if only because it could complicate your situation. It's not even like it would consider you inadmissible, it's just if you just want to avoid the stress of having to juggle all of these different policies recommended that you stay in the U.S. if you have valid status, obviously. Another piece of advice too is just reach out and talk to you -- Stilt has a lot of great resources -- we have people that you can talk to as well we have office hours and blog posts and a newsletter you can sign up for to get updates. Oftentimes a lot of these policies sound really scary and really complicated but you'd be surprised at you know how much of it is actually not as scary as it seems. A lot of the most recent proclamation orders that just came out were really just extensions of things that are already in place. That's not to detract from the fact that it can be scary and I can't be anxious like anxiety inducing. That part, yes, we're here with you for that for sure, but just know that oftentimes like it might seem like there are no options, but you might be surprised to see what options are available to you. 

Rohit: No that's super helpful. So Legalpad does a lot of webinars and information sessions on these things and if you need any specific advice on your case I think Legalpad has a lot of help available, which they're willing to provide so you can just go to to to sign up and access to sign up for webinars and access their resources. And also a lot of blog posts so you can review a lot of those blog posts just to stay updated on how things are going.

Sara: Yeah I mean Ithink with like Stilt and Legalpad in your back pocket you're pretty much covered. So there you go, cool.

Rohit: And and if you like the video you can you should always like, subscribe and and like it on Youtube so you we make Youtube algorithm happy and a lot more people like yourselves are able to view the video and help themselves in this kind of this kind of anxious situation. Cool thanks again Sara for joining us.

Sara: Thank you for having me!

Rohit: We'll talk again soon and in the next video we'll talk about the temporary F-1 student visa ban that happened and then got overturned so that will be very helpful for international students. 

Sara: Absolutely. I have a soft spot for international students too so please put your questions in the comments or anything like that. I guarantee you if we don't have the answer, we can at least point you in the right direction.

Rohit: Totally. Again thank you very much for your time and congratulations on winning the young entrepreneur award!

Sara: Thank you!

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