Thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, who lost their jobs due to a spate of recent layoffs at companies such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are now struggling to find new employment within the stipulated period of their work visas after the termination of their employment to stay in the country.
According to The Washington Post, nearly 200,000 IT workers have been laid off since last November, including record numbers at companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.
According to some industry insiders, between 30 to 40 percent of these are Indian IT professionals, a significant number of whom are on H-1B and L1 visas.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Tech companies depend on hiring tens of thousands of employees every year from countries like India and China.
L-1A and L-1B visas are available for temporary transfers within a company who work in management positions or have specialized skills.
A significant number of Indian IT professionals, who hold nonimmigrant work visas such as the H-1B L1, are now trying to find options to stay in the US to find new work within the anticipated few months they receive under these foreign work visas after losing their jobs and switching visa status.
Amazon employee Gita (name changed) arrived in the US just three months ago. She was told this week that March 20 is her last day of work.
The situation worsens for those on H-1B visas as they have to find a new job within 60 days or they would be left with no other option but to return to India.
In the current circumstances, when all IT companies are under attack, they consider it almost impossible to get a job in that short period.
Sita (name changed), another IT professional on an H-1B visa, was fired from Microsoft on January 18. She is a single mother. Her son is in high school, preparing to enter college.
“This situation is really difficult for us,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate that thousands of tech workers are facing layoffs, especially those on H-1B visas who face the added challenge of having to find a new job and transfer their visa within 60 days of termination or risk leaving the country,” Silicon valley – said entrepreneur and community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria.
“This can have devastating consequences for families, including the sale of assets and disruption to children’s education.” “It would be beneficial for tech companies to show special consideration for H-1B workers and extend their termination date by a few months, as the labor market and hiring process can be challenging,” he said.
The Global Indian Association of Technology Professionals (GITPRO) and the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) on Sunday launched a community-wide effort to try to help these IT professionals by connecting job seekers with job referrers and informants. FIIDS will work on efforts to influence policy makers and decision makers at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“With mass layoffs in the tech industry, January 2023 has been brutal for tech professionals.” Many talented people lost their jobs. Since the tech industry is dominated by Indian immigrants, they are the most affected,” said Kande Rao Kand.
Dismissed H-1B holders must find employment with an H-1B sponsor within 60 days or leave within 10 days of losing status.
“This has a huge disruption to family lives and children’s education etc. for this legal immigrant who pays taxes and contributes,” said Khande Rao Kand of FIIDS.
Mr. Butoria said it would be beneficial to redesign the immigration process to better support H-1B workers and keep high-skilled talent in the US.
In deep distress, laid-off Indian IT workers have formed various WhatsApp groups to find ways to find a solution to their dire situation.
In one of the WhatsApp groups, there are more than 800 unemployed Indian IT workers who circulate among themselves the vacancies that come up in the country.
In another group, they discussed various visa options, with some immigration lawyers volunteering to offer their consulting services during this time.
“These circumstances have such a devastating effect on us immigrants and it’s annoying. We’re a little lost,” Rakesh (name changed) said when he was fired from Microsoft on Thursday. He is in the US on an H-1B visa.
Adding to the woes of Indian IT professionals is Google’s latest decision to pause their green card processing. This is primarily because, at a time when they have laid off thousands of employees, they cannot be seen to be arguing to USCIS that they need a foreign IT expert as a permanent resident. Other companies are expected to follow suit.
(Other than the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)
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