Tech Layoffs: Work Visa Holders Scramble for Jobs to Avert Deportation

US tech has held steady after years of apparently endless growth. Companies are cutting down drastically to preserve their cash flow, which has resulted in thousands of layoffs per month and a vast number in November.

The latest wave of layoffs is having an outsized effect on skilled individuals in the US on temporary visas and risk being sent home if they do not find new employment quickly.

Work Visa

As reported by Tech Times, the H-1B program permits firms to hire foreign college graduates in particular sectors. Foreign nationals may get these visas for a period of three years, with a possible extension.

These visas are popular among tech businesses as an employment category. 

For many, many years, Silicon Valley has relied on temporary visas provided by the government to hire thousands of foreign employees in specialized industries like engineering, biotechnology, and computer science. 

In large part, tech firms have been vocal in their support for immigration rights, according to CNBC.

Temporary visa holders often have between 60 and 90 days to locate new employment or face deportation.

Immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn told CNBC that many people are having trouble making the 60-day extension.

“They have a chance to find a new job to sponsor them, and if they can’t do that, they have to leave the US. So it’s a stressful time for everybody.”

Tech Firms reports that in November alone, more than 50,000 people in the IT industry lost their employment.

Meta, Amazon, Twitter, Lyft, Salesforce, HP, and DoorDash all announced large-scale layoffs in November, adding more gloom to an already dismal scenario. 

In fiscal 2021, Amazon had 6,182 granted H-1B visa applications, according to the National Foundation for American Policy. Similarly prominent were Google, IBM, and Microsoft.

See More: Tech Employment Grows Amid Layoffs and Recruiting Curbs

True Cases

In CNBC’s report, one former Amazon Web Services (AWS) employee was let off in November, only months after starting as an engineer. 

Despite Amazon telling him he had 60 days to find another work within the firm, his boss urged him to go outside due to a hiring freeze. 

Amazon confirmed it is halting corporate recruiting in November. 

In response to the 60-day unemployment window, many newly laid-off H-1B employees have taken to LinkedIn to voice their concerns about their future. 

The ex-AWS worker said that visa holders have been exchanging data in WhatsApp groups and on anonymous professional network Discord servers.

A recently laid-off engineer from gene-sequencing technology firm Illumina expressed optimism that his former employer would be willing to support his change to an H-1B visa. 

He is in the country on a separate visa called Optional Practical Training (OPT), which permits recent college grads with degrees in STEM fields to remain in the country and work for up to three years.

The former Illumina employee must find a new job within 90 days of dismissal. However, any firm that employs him must support the visa transfer and pay costs. 

He is contemplating returning to school to prolong his US stay but worries about student debts.

See More: Tech Times Job Hunting Tips: Here’s How to Recover From Being Laid Off

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