Recent mass technology sector layoffs have had a negative impact on H-1B visa holders who are now frantically searching for new opportunities that will allow them to remain in the United States. The H-1B is a temporary nonimmigrant visa that allows employers to petition for highly educated foreign professionals to work in specialty professions such as the technology industry which would normally require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.
Recently, mass layoffs at companies like Twitter, Amazon, and Google have caused thousands of workers to lose their jobs. Among these workers includes more than 40,000 individuals who work and live in the United States under an H-1B visa. The time of their employment is temporary and relies entirely on the decision of their specific employer. In other words, an H-1B employer is not required to keep hiring the worker for the life of their visa.
Once an H-1B visa holder is laid off from their job, their status and ability to remain in the United States is put at risk. Typically, the former employee has sixty days to locate a new willing employer, petition for another status which is difficult due to the limited options, or willingly leave the country. If they do happen to land another position, the new employer then has sixty days to apply for the worker’s H-1B visa on their behalf. If the visa holder does not switch jobs, adopt a different status, or leave the country, they will accrue unlawful presence in the United States, which has serious repercussions, such as the possibility of deportation as well as losing the eligibility to ever return to the United States. Ultimately, a vast majority of individuals who are currently in the United States on this type of visa are negatively impacted as a direct consequence of these layoffs.