Reclassifying H-1B visa jobs is an expensive, time consuming and laborious process
It has been a long, bleak winter for many work visa holders in the US. With almost all major tech companies announcing job cuts, the US is suddenly seeing an increased number of professionals clamoring for a job within 60 days in order to maintain their legal status in the country.
For Seattle based Atharv A being on an H-1B visa has proved to be the biggest restriction. He says, â€œI got an H-1B, and after a few years, I had the option to go to Canada for higher studies or for a job but I gave that up for the American dream. I knew that H-1B could be restrictive but one always thinks that with time problems will be ironed out. Only in the case of H-1B holders it seems to be getting multiplied.â€
Read: Lay-offs make US a risky place to work (February 1, 2023)
Atharv belongs to that unfortunate pool of H-1B holders who are now looking for a job as time races against them. For Sujata Shah, a tech professional who lost her 10 year old job earlier this year, the biggest hardship remains that she had to settle for a lesser salary just to maintain her legal status.
â€œEven though you know that you have more experience and expertise than many others, you have this restrictive visa that kind of messes up your entire professional life,â€ she says. â€œI know some who settled for less salaries, lesser roles just because their employer was ready to offer them a job.â€
While H-1B has always had some limitations for professionals, the current lay-off cycle has worsened the situation. Asked whether H-1 B visa holders have traditionally faced hardships, Amy Bhatt, author of â€˜High-Tech Housewivesâ€™ says, â€œI think there certainly have been many hardships if you are here on a H-1B and primary one being the feeling of being trapped by your company.â€
â€œThis is also something that has been a critique of the H-1B program for workers in order to move their position and even to have their jobs re classified it can be an expensive, time consuming and laborious process,â€ she says.
Read: Laid-off employees on H-1B visas share their storiesÂ (January 27, 2023)
â€œIt requires the company to be actually, sort of being part of sponsoring and re-classifying a job and making sure that all of the paperwork is filed correctly so that H-1B workers are not out of status or out of compliance with the policies that govern the H-1B visa.â€
â€œSo, for instance, if you are here on a visa as a program manager, but you want to take up a job that would be a higher level, that company will be asked to prove that there is no one else who could take up that job,â€ Bhatt says.
â€œEven though you as an H-1B worker could have been working there and be one of the most qualified worker, the company would still have to go through a process of demonstrating that there not a more qualified American worker here already,â€ she says. â€œThat could be quite cumbersome and many companies are not willing to really go through that labor.â€
Read: Amid job cuts, does an H-1B visa still hold its charm?Â (January 23, 2023)
â€œAnd for the H-1B worker they may be unwilling to take the risk of a job promotion or leaving their job or going to a startup or even switching career paths because they are in a queue and not only they are in a queue and itâ€™s not just their livelihood but their entire families are dependent on them that it works,â€ says Bhatt.
â€œSo, this places a high degree of stress and high degree of uncertainty not only to the primary visa holder but also to their families.â€
Read: Indian Americans start â€œLaid off-Jobhuntâ€ chat groupsÂ (January 26, 2023)
Read: Indian government asked to help laid off IndiansÂ (January 24, 2023)
Read: Indian techies prepare for worst amid lay-off spreeÂ (January 10, 2023)
Read: How workers can stay in the US after losing jobsÂ (December 20, 2022)