H-1B visa holders are in limbo due to tech layoffs in the US

More than 144,000 people in the tech industry have lost their jobs this year, according to Layoffs.fyi, a site that’s been keeping tabs. November has been the most brutal month — with more than 200 companies laying off more than 51,000 people. As a result, thousands of people holding H-1B work visas are now at risk to be forced to leave the U.S., Axios writes. Especially, the situation is difficult for families that have set roots in the States for years. 

  • In the event of a layoff, H-1B holders have 60 days to find new companies to sponsor their visas. If they can’t, they can try switching to a different kind of work visa or look into non-work visas, such as a self-sponsored green card. But for some leaving the country may be the best or only course of action.
  • While the actual number is unknown, some experts believe H-1B visa holders account for between 10%–30% of those who have lost their jobs. Amazon and Meta have cut the most number of people year-to-date. Those two companies are among the top sponsors of H-1B petitions in 2021: roughly 17,000 and 4,400, respectively.
  • 60-day grace period is not enough for workers to find new jobs, Sophie Alcorn, CEO of Alcorn Immigration Law, estimates. It’s already challenging to find a job during the holiday season and to get an H-1B visa. Workers in this situation may be forced to leave their homes for an indefinite period of time as certain U.S. Consulates or embassies around the world often have wait times of 3-plus years for new visa interviews.
  • On the other hand, for employers looking to hire, this is a good opportunity to retain brilliant, experienced workers who will be grateful for the opportunity to stay in the country.