Thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, who lost their jobs due to the recent spate of layoffs at companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are now struggling to find new jobs within the expected time frame. by their work visa after the end of their employment to stay in the country.
According to the Washington Post, nearly 200,000 IT workers have been laid off since November last year, including record numbers at companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.
According to some industry insiders, between 30 and 40 percent of them are Indian IT professionals, a significant number of whom hold H-1B and L1 visas.
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. businesses to employ foreign workers in specialized occupations requiring academic or technical expertise. Tech companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees every year in countries like India and China.
L-1A and L-1B visas are available for intra-corporate transferees who hold management positions or have specialized knowledge.
A considerable number of Indian IT professionals, who have non-immigrant work visas like H-1B are L1, are now scrambling for options to stay in the United States to find new employment within the stipulated few months that ‘they get under these foreign work visas after losing their jobs and changing their visa status as well.
The Amazon employee Gita (name changed) arrived in the United States only three months ago. This week, he was told March 20 was his last day on the job.
The situation is getting worse for H-1B visa holders as they have to find a new job within 60 days or else they would have no choice but to return to India.
In the current circumstances, when all IT companies are booming, finding a job in this short time seems almost impossible to them.
Sita (name changed), another IT professional on an H-1B visa, was fired from Microsoft on January 18. She’s a single mother. Her son is in his first year of high school preparing to enter college.
“This situation is really difficult for us,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that thousands of tech employees are facing layoffs, especially those on H-1B visas who face additional challenges as they must find new jobs and transfer their visas to the 60 days of termination or risk leaving the country,” Silicon Valley entrepreneur and community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria said.
“This can have devastating consequences for families, including the sale of properties and disruptions in children’s education. Tech companies would benefit from showing special consideration for H-1B workers and extending their layoff date of a few months, because the job market and the recruitment process can be difficult,” he said.
The Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (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 applicants of employment with referents and informants. FIIDS will work to influence policy makers and decision-makers in United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“With massive layoffs in the tech industry, January 2023 was brutal for tech professionals. Many talented people lost their jobs. If the tech industry is dominated by Indian immigrants, they are the most affected,” said Khande Rao Kand.
Terminated H-1B holders must find H-1B sponsorship employment within 60 days or leave within 10 days of losing their status.
“It has a huge disruption on family life and raising children etc. on this legal immigrant paying taxes and contributing,” said FIIDS’ Khande Rao Kand.
Mr. Bhutoria said it would be beneficial if the immigration process was redesigned to better support H-1B workers and retain highly skilled talent in the United States.
In great distress, India’s laid-off IT workers have formed various WhatsApp groups to find ways to find a solution to the dire situation they find themselves in.
In one of the WhatsApp groups, there are more than 800 unemployed Indian IT professionals circulating vacancies arising in the country among themselves.
In another group, they discussed various visa options, with some immigration lawyers who volunteered to offer their consulting services during this time.
“These circumstances have a devastating effect on us immigrants and are nerve-wracking. We are a bit lost,” said Rakesh (name changed) who was fired from Microsoft on Thursday. He is in the United States on an H-1B visa.
Google’s latest decision to suspend their green card processing adds to the miseries of Indian IT professionals. It’s mainly because at a time when they’ve laid off thousands of employees, you can’t see them arguing before USCIS that they need a foreign IT professional as a resident permanent. Other companies are expected to follow suit.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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