Recession in tech industry would hit H-1B workers hard, says Seattle based Immigration expert Amy Bhatt
The American big giant corporations are currently experiencing some of the worst macroeconomic conditions. The layoff cycle that began late last year has seemingly spiraled out of control.
The latest from the tech space is that Meta may be heading towards an additional lay off cycle shortly. This move, if it happens, would come after Meta already had laid-off 11,000 people last November.
Read: Laid-off employees on H-1B visas share their stories (January 27, 2023)
Almost all the big giants – Google, Amazon, Meta have laid-off employees that were high performing and had years of experience. As the job market continues to sink into an abyss, the work visa community has a mounting fear of uncertainty.
According to immigration experts, the new year has been terribly disappointing for the work-based visa community. If the non-passage of Eagle Act wasn’t enough of a blow, the impending recession would further position visa holders in a precarious condition about the longevity of their stay and career in the United States.
Seattle based, immigration researchers and author, Amy Bhatt says, “In the recent past, the situation of the Eagle Act has been terribly disappointing. For families that have been waiting, this truly has been the most devastating kind of blow to the activism and to the promises that have been made to this community.”
“We saw it under the pandemic and definitely in the first two years of Covid being in a status where you did not have clear rights to come across borders became incredibly challenging for H-1B workers,” he says.
Read: Amid job cuts, does an H-1B visa still hold its charm? (January 23, 2023)
“The H-1B visa holders were unable to go home to see family, they were unable to participate in any major family events or if there were any deaths or emergencies they were feeling very trapped in the United States.
“The passage of the Eagle act was one beacon of hope that maybe this would be the time if we start clearing up some of the residency issues we would then move towards a space where that sort of entrapment wouldn’t necessarily happen with such severity in the future,” says Bhatt.
“Unfortunately, we are now kind of stuck back in the same situation we have been for three decades and the position we are now in is much worse than what it was when the program started.”
Immigration experts agree that the situation has become grave now with the real prospect of recession looming large on the tech sector in the United States.
“I think we are now also moving towards a real recession, the one that is going to be hitting our tech sectors in particular where H-1Bs are over represented,” says Bhatt. “I think there is going to be a real phenomenon globally where people would see United States as a risky place and a place where you don’t want to get stuck when you don’t know what the future could hold for you.
Read: Tech layoffs send visa holders on frantic search for employment to avoid deportation (December 2, 2022)
“With uncertainty on the outcome here in the US, other parts of the world would begin to look a lot more comfortable, a lot safer and potentially a place that would attract the talent that would have otherwise come here,” he says.
On how to navigate the current crisis experts maintain that at this point, the advocacy needs to continue and the stories of H-1B plights need to be brought out, the position of H-1B workers needs to be highlighted so that the world sees and understands the challenges a lay-off can put on entire families.
Read: Indian Americans start “Laid off-Jobhunt” chat groups (January 26, 2023)
Read: Indian government asked to help laid off Indians (January 24, 2023)
Read: Indian techies prepare for worst amid lay-off spree (January 10, 2023)
Read: In holiday season carnage, tech sector shed more than 50,000 jobs in November (December 29, 2022)
Read: How workers can stay in the US after losing jobs (December 20, 2022)
And quite apart from my previous comment. H-1b workers shouldn’t be forced to leave the country abruptly. They might see their H-1b visa expire in 2 months (okay we need to get locals employed), but I think giving them a 6-month visitor visa to fix up loose ends, is the right thing to do. So moderator, you might not agree with the previous comment, but I think by this comment you can understand that I work from the POV of love (and I owe that to one Martin Luther King, in this country). And to the non-violent struggles of a previous leader in India, who like Dr. King, gave it all for humanity.
In six months, these same companies will all complain they can’t find enough workers. They will complain, even as workers leave the country, or local workers are unable to find work.
The real problem is the unwillingness to:
– Offer employees a paycut, and retraining, in order to keep their job
– Unwilling to hire the 30+ qualified STEM/IT workers Meta turns away, for each job Meta openly advertises (DOJ vs Facebook, 2600+ cases of discrimination over just a 1.5 year period, on the DOJ website).
Tech workers are paid well. But if you average it out, giving periodic layoffs, it isn’t such a great deal.
Most of the workers being let go ARE exactly the kinds of workers that Meta, Google, Microsoft said were in short supply. Well we must be willing to question such assertions by these companies in the future.
Every unemployed person, including those on an H-1b visa, take unemployment and so become a burden to the whole country. I think, for the good of the country, and given the skittish nature of tech companies, we need to make sure there is ALWAYS a shortage of tech workers. Because companies like META (DOJ vs Facebook) will not tell the truth to American public, unless they are under oath or talking to a Federal Investigator (where lying carries a criminal penalty).