As tech companies begin layoffs, H-1B visa holders are in jeopardy

Thousands of H-1B employees have been employed by the largest technology companies for many years. However, as a possible recession approaches, many companies are beginning to lay off workers, putting those with this visa in a difficult position, according to CNBC.

Twitter, Meta, Amazon, and Cisco have all announced their intention to lay off thousands of employees. Meta has reportedly let go of 11,000 employees, while Twitter has reportedly let go of 7,500. Numerous smaller startups are also engaging in significant staff reductions. Those H-1B employees targeted by HR may have sixty days to find a new job; if they fail, they will be forced to leave the country. However, depending on their circumstances, an H-1B worker may apply for a different visa, such as a student visa.

Throughout the year, the demand for H-1B visas in the technology sector was observed despite growing economic uncertainty. US Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that for the fiscal year 2023, employees filed 483,000 H-1B registrations, a 57% increase over the fiscal year 2022. (USCIS). Approximately 127,600 registrations were picked by lottery.

Nonetheless, a recession may reduce both this demand and the desire of some foreign workers to work in the American IT industry.

During an interview with Bloomberg Law, Ali Brodie, a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP, pondered, “Will this have a chilling effect on the tech sector by making it less appealing to highly skilled and talented foreign workers?” “Will it relocate these foreign workers away from America? That is the question we must investigate.”

Anyone who opposes the H-1B system will welcome a decline in the visa demand. Critics assert that the visa is abused to obtain low-cost skilled labor, particularly by consulting and business service firms that outsource their H-1B employees to other companies.

Both the Trump and Biden administrations proposed reforms and restrictions to the H-1B program, but neither could completely revamp the system.

The H-1B employer-employee relationship could be redefined under a long-delayed USCIS plan (now scheduled for May 2023) that would also update regulations regarding employer site visits and F-1 students transferring to H-1B status.

Those H-1B workers affected by the most recent round of layoffs will need to work quickly to find a new position; however, given the current low unemployment rate in the technology industry, they may not be able to do so within the allotted 60 days.