Daily News: Indian Workers in US Most Affected in Layoff Season Amid 195-Year Wait For Green Card


Amidst mass layoffs at tech companies and slow hiring, Indians appear to be suffering the most as those awaiting a permanent residency card might have to wait for as long as 195 years.

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Indians suffer after mass layoffs as hiring is slow and wait for 195 years for a green card.

Washington: Amidst mass layoffs at a number of well paying tech companies and slow hiring, Indians appear to be suffering the most as those awaiting a permanent residency card might have to wait for as long as 195 years. With very little time at hand to find another job, 60 days to be precise, hundreds of workers are faced with the harsh reality of leaving the country in the lack of a green card or other stable visa opportunities. On the top of it, companies that sponsored them are of little help.

TECH COMPANIES RELY ON H-1B WORKERS

As per a report by Bloomberg, tech industry has long relied on the H-1B visa program to meet its need for workers in specialized fields such as computer science and engineering.

  • Amazon, Lyft, Meta, Salesforce, Stripe and Twitter have sponsored at least 45,000 H-1B workers in the past three years, according to a Bloomberg analysis of data from US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Reports compiled by employees at Meta and Twitter indicate that the latest round of job cuts at those two companies alone has affected at least 350 immigrants.
  • H-1B holders who become unemployed can remain in the US legally for only 60 days without finding new employers to sponsor them.

Many people with H-1B visas have been living in the US for years, awaiting permanent citizenship. But not after being fired from these tech giants, they have to find jobs within two months amidst cut-throat competition, mortgages, student loans and even children in school.

At the same time, many major employers have frozen hiring, and recruiting is typically slower during the holidays.

WHAT IS H-1B VISA?

The H-1B program allows US employers to recruit foreign workers with college degrees in technical fields where there’s historically been a shortage of Americans. Visas are issued for three years, with possible extensions. The number of people allowed in each year is capped at 85,000, and demand is high, particularly among Indian professionals.

The layoffs have had an especially big impact on Indians, who tend to be on temporary visas longer than other foreign groups because of backlogs in getting permanent residency (a green card). Each country is typically allowed a maximum of 7 per cent of the employment-based green cards issued each year, so while there are almost half a million Indian nationals in the queue, only about 10,000 green cards a year are available for them. A congressional report estimated that Indians filing in 2020 would have to wait as long as 195 years for a green card. Chinese workers faced an 18-year wait; for people from the rest of the world, it’s less than a year.

INADEQUATE SUPPORT FROM COMPANIES TO IMMIGRANTS

Companies, which must pay for H-1B workers to return to their home country if they have to leave the US after losing their job, have offered varying levels of support for immigrants. A few former Twitter employees on temporary visas told Bloomberg that the company has provided little assistance and wasn’t clear when their 60-day grace period starts. When one worker asked for clarification, a company representative recommended finding their own attorney, because the law could be interpreted in different ways.

Aditya Tawde, an engineer from India who works at LinkedIn, calls immigration support from US companies the “bare minimum.” A USCIS spokesperson says the agency is exploring policy options to address challenges faced by immigrant communities and is committed to increasing access to immigration benefits.

Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who announced 11,000 job cuts this month, told employees that visa holders would be given “notice periods”- which can buy them more time before their visa clock starts ticking-and assistance from “dedicated immigration specialists.” But one former Meta employee says the consultation wasn’t helpful. The attorney had offered similar advice to Twitter: “Find your own lawyer.” Others said they appreciated the support.

“There is serious pressure to find jobs,” says Fiona McEntee, an immigration attorney with McEntee Law Group in Chicago. “The issue is the ticking clock.”




Published Date: November 22, 2022 9:10 PM IST



Updated Date: November 22, 2022 9:12 PM IST

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