Numerous individuals living in the US on temporary visas now have limited time to locate new employment before they must leave the country due to mass layoffs in the technology sector. And many claim that the businesses who sponsored them are providing them with insufficient advice.
Details about Indians are particularly impacted by the US’s widespread IT layoffs and 195-year waiting period for a green card
The H-1B visa program has been used by the tech sector for a long time to fill its demand for professionals in specialist sectors like computer science and engineering. According to a Bloomberg review of information from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, at least 45,000 H-1B workers have been sponsored by Amazon, Lyft, Meta, Salesforce, Stripe, and Twitter in the previous three years. At least 350 immigrants have been impacted by the most recent wave of job cuts at just two businesses, according to reports filed by employees at Meta and Twitter. Only 60 days are allowed for H-1B visa holders who lose their jobs to remain legally in the US without finding new companies to sponsor them.
Many individuals with H-1B visas have been residing in the US for many years while seeking naturalization. Together with thousands of other computer employees, they are currently desperately looking for work in a newly competitive job market. Some people have mortgages, college loans, and school-age children.
Recruiting is normally slower around the holidays, and many large firms have stopped hiring altogether. In order to avoid upsetting their former employers or endangering their job search, more than a dozen recently laid-off employees asked to remain anonymous. A 30-year-old former Twitter designer who has lived in the US for 14 years and was fired in November along with 3,500 other employees said she had long envisioned this possibility and lived in fear of having to pack up everything and flee the country on short notice. “Will I need to move?” she wonders. “There’s always this stuff moving back and forth in our heads.”
Employers in the US are now able to hire foreigners with college degrees in technical professions where there has historically been a dearth of Americans because of the H-1B program. With the possibility of renewals, visas are provided for three years. The annual cap on admissions is 85,000, and there is a significant demand for spots, particularly among Indian professionals. According to US Department of Labor statistics, the third quarter’s median pay for H-1B employees was $106,000. However, top IT company employees earn significantly more. Without taking into account sizable incentives and stock options, the typical compensation for an H-1B employee at Meta, Salesforce, and Twitter was roughly $175,000.
Indians have been particularly hard hit by layoffs since they typically have temporary visas longer than other ethnic groups due to delays in obtaining permanent status (a green card). While there are about 500,000 Indian citizens on the waiting list, only around 10,000 employment-based green cards are normally available for them each year because each country is typically only permitted to receive 7% of the employment-based green cards awarded each year. According to Senate research, Indians applying in 2020 could end up waiting up to 195 years for a green card. Chinese workers had to wait 18 years, compared to less than a year for everyone else.