Thousands of Indian IT professionals in the US, who have lost their jobs due to the string of recent layoffs at companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are now struggling to find new employment within the time frame set under their work visas after the termination of their jobs to stay in the country.
Nearly 200,000 IT workers have been laid off since November last year, including some record numbers at companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, according to The Washington Post.
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 non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of workers each year from countries like India and China.
L-1A and L-1B visas are available to temporary intra-corporate transferees who work in managerial positions or have specialized knowledge.
A significant number of Indian IT professionals, who hold non-immigrant work visas such as H-1B or L1, are now looking for options to stay in the US to find a new job within the stipulated few months they receive under these conditions. foreign work visas after losing their jobs and also change their visa status.
Amazon employee Gita (name changed) only arrived in the US three months ago. This week she was told that March 20 is her last working day.
The situation gets worse for those on H-1B visa as they have to find a new job within 60 days or else they will have no choice but to go back to India.
Under the current circumstances, where all IT companies are on the run, it seems almost impossible to find a job within that short period of time.
Sita (name changed), another IT professional on an H-1B visa, was fired from Microsoft on Jan. 18. She is a single mother. Her son is in junior high school and preparing to go to university.
“This situation is very difficult for us,” she said.
“It is unfortunate that thousands of tech workers are facing layoffs, particularly those on H-1B visas who face additional challenges as they must find a new job and transfer their visa within 60 days of termination or risk leave the country,” said Silicon Valley entrepreneur and community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria.
“This can have devastating consequences for families, including property sales and disruptions to children’s education. It would be beneficial for tech companies to pay special attention to H-1B workers and extend their termination date by a few months, as the job market and the recruitment process can be challenging,” he said.
The Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO) and the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) launched a community-wide effort on Sunday to help these IT professionals by connecting job seekers with job referrers and informants. FIIDS will work on efforts to influence U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy makers and decision makers.
“With mass layoffs in the technology industry, January 2023 was brutal for tech professionals. Many talented people lost their jobs. As the technology industry is dominated by Indian immigrants, they are the most affected,” said Khande Rao Kand.
The discharged H-1B holders must find an H-1B sponsorship job within 60 days or leave within 10 days of losing their status.
“This has caused a huge disruption to the family life and child education etc. of this tax paying and contributing legal immigrant,” said Khande Rao Kand of FIIDS.
Mr Bhutoria said it would be helpful if the immigration process were redesigned to better support H-1B workers and retain highly skilled talent in the US.
In deep distress, the laid-off Indian IT workers have formed several WhatsApp groups to find ways to resolve the terrible situation they are in.
In one of the WhatsApp groups, there are more than 800 unemployed Indian IT workers who publish job vacancies in the country among themselves.
In another group, they discussed various visa options with some immigration lawyers who volunteered to offer their advisory services during this time.
“These conditions are having such a devastating effect on us immigrants and are nerve wracking. We’re kind of lost,” said Rakesh (name changed) who 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 that they suspend their green card processing. This is mainly because, at a time when they have laid off thousands of employees, it is not apparent to the USCIS that they need a foreign IT professional as a permanent resident. Other companies are expected to follow suit.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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