Expats on H-1B visas threatened by tech layoffs
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About 10,000 employees made redundant at Amazon, 11,000 at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, more than 3,000 at Twitter, 1,200 at Snapchat, several hundred at Intel and Salesforce… In total, more than 42,000 tech professionals have lost their jobs in recent weeks in the United States. Among them are thousands of foreign workers with H-1B visas. “who may soon be forced to leave the United States”, explains the magazine Forbes.

“I figured I was going to find a new job by November, that the sixty-day grace period to keep my H-1B visa would be easy to manage, writes one of them on LinkedIn. A month later, with no job offer in sight, I’m discouraged…I wish I didn’t have to consider the daunting possibility of selling everything I own, saying goodbye to everyone I know here, and leaving the country overnight just because I was fired.”

Tens of thousands of professionals deprived of work

According to Kathy Khol, an immigration lawyer, foreign workers commonly make up 20-30% of the workforce at US tech companies. Most of them, in the event that they lose their job, only benefit from this period of sixty days to find another one before being liable to expulsion. However, according to his estimates, at least half of recently laid off workers will not be able to find a new job in time.

While he was still “relatively easy”, last summer, to land a job in the sector in a few weeks when start-ups like Carvana or GoPuff laid off thousands of professionals, the majority of H-1B visa holders laid off this fall will not have this luck, say other experts as well.

Neither Apple nor Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have yet announced any job cuts. On the other hand, the two giants have decided to freeze hiring. Moreover, even if many start-ups in the launch phase are short of staff, they do not have the capacity to hire the tens of thousands of professionals suddenly deprived of work.

Solutions exist to try to extend the legal period of sixty days, specifies Forbes – to exchange its allowances against a leave without pay, to file an application for a tourist or student visa, to apply for a green card or to create a company – , but most cost thousands of dollars and are not always guaranteed to be able to stay in the country in the long term.

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