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Cobra coverage after converting from H1B visa to B2 Visa


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Hi 

I am in United States on H1B (work visa) and I am having my health insurance with UnitedHealth Care thru my employer.

My wife is pregnant with due in May 2021. I am worried on what happens to my health insurance if I loose my job and have to change my visa from H1B (work visa) to B2 (visitor visa).

Can you please suggest if I can opt for COBRA insurance (on a visitor visa)

Note: My employer has more than 50+ employees and so COBRA is optable 

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@JSR_Kris Visa status should not affect your COBRA rights.

As a general matter, immigration, visa, SSN, or citizenship status is irrelevant for purposes of health plan eligibility.  Eligible employees and their eligible spouses, domestic partners, or children under age 26 in the U.S. can enroll when residing in the U.S. regardless of their immigration, visa, SSN, or citizenship status.  None of that changes when you're a qualified beneficiary on COBRA continuation coverage.

The COBRA maximum coverage period will be 18 months where the qualifying even is loss of coverage caused by termination of employment.

Note that the child will become a COBRA qualified beneficiary upon birth if you are enrolled in COBRA at the time.  Full details here: https://www.theabdteam.com/blog/enrolling-new-dependents-and-changing-plan-options-under-cobra/

Treas. Reg. §54.4980B-3:

Q-1. Who is a qualified beneficiary?

A-1. (a)(1) Except as set forth in paragraphs (c) through (f) of this Q&A-1, a qualified beneficiary is—

(i) Any individual who, on the day before a qualifying event, is covered under a group health plan by virtue of being on that day either a covered employee, the spouse of a covered employee, or a dependent child of the covered employee; or

(ii) Any child who is born to or placed for adoption with a covered employee during a period of COBRA continuation coverage.

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@JSR_Kris On the other hand, B-2 visitor visas are meant to be temporary and relatively short. If you overstay a visitor visa and are caught, you will likely be barred from re-entering the U.S. for years. And given your circumstances, the USCIS might not be willing to grant you a B-2.

If you think a layoff is imminent, then consider that an H-1b visa is fairly easy to transfer to another company while you are still employed by your current one. You might want to start looking for a new employer now.

In any case, I highly recommend you speak with an immigration lawyer to discuss your options. Things are very tricky at the USCIS right now and it may take some time for that agency to change. If you are laid off, staying in the country legally may be more problematic than the COBRA issue.

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