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Technician layoffs leave visa holders struggling to keep jobs in the US

After years of seemingly endless expansion, the US tech industry has hit a wall. The company is in cash conservation mode, leading to thousands of job cuts each month and a spike in layoffs in his November.

A sudden loss of salary can be devastating to anyone, but especially during the holiday season, the recent wave of cuts has been huge for skilled workers living in the United States on temporary visas. Influencing. They can’t secure new jobs right away.

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High-tech companies are among the most frequently approved employers for H-1B visas, which are granted to professionals who often require a college degree and specialized training. will be For years, Silicon Valley has relied on temporary government-issued visas to employ thousands of foreign workers in technical fields such as engineering, biotechnology, and computer science. This is a big reason tech companies have been outspoken when defending immigrant rights.

Temporary visa workers often take 60 to 90 days to find a new job to avoid deportation.

“What the United States is fortunate to attract is this amazing pool of talent, and they are always top-notch,” says Sophie Alcorn, an immigration attorney in Mountain View, Calif. who specializes in obtaining visas for skilled workers. I live on the front lines,” he said. “Many of them have met this deadline of her 60-day grace period. They have a chance to find new jobs that will sponsor them. So it’s a stressful time, guys.”

An already grim situation worsened in November, meta, Amazontwitter, lift, Salesforce, HP When door dash announced a significant reduction in personnel. In November, he laid off more than 50,000 tech workers, according to data collected by the website

According to a former Amazon Web Services employee who lost his job, Amazon gave the laid-off employee 60 days to find a new role within the company before offering severance pay. The person told CNBC on condition of anonymity.

According to a National Policy Foundation review of U.S. immigration data, Amazon had the highest number of approved H-1B visa applications in fiscal year 2021, with 6,182. Google, IBM When microsoft Also ranked high in the ranking.

A former AWS employee has been in the country for two years on student and employment visas. He said he was unexpectedly laid off in early November, just months after joining the company as an engineer.Amazon has 60 days to find another position within the company. The person said his manager had advised him to apply for other jobs as the company was holding back on hiring. announced that it would be temporarily suspended.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment further when CEO Andy Jassy said last month that the company will help people affected by layoffs find new jobs.

Companies generally don’t specify what percentage of those who are laid off have visas. A search for “layoff H1B” on LinkedIn brings up a series of posts from workers who have recently lost their jobs and are expressing concern about the 60-day unemployment period. According to former AWS employees, Visa holders share resources on Discord servers, anonymous professional network Blind, and WhatsApp groups.

It has already been a frenetic few years for foreign workers in the United States, even before inflation soared and recession fears spurred recent job cuts.

The Trump administration’s hostile stance on immigration has endangered the H-1B program. As president in 2020, Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending work visas, including those with H-1B status, arguing it would hurt the employment prospects of Americans. It drew strong criticism from tech executives who said the program would act as a pipeline for talented individuals and strengthen America’s businesses. allowed.

The relief offered by President Biden is of limited value to those who are currently unemployed.An engineer recently laid off from a genetic sequencing technology company Illumina He said he hopes his employer will sponsor his transition to the H-1B visa. He is here on another visa known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). This allows science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates to work in the United States for up to three years after graduation.

The former Illumina employee, who asked not to be named, not only has 90 days from the layoff date to find a new job, but his OPT visa expires in August. The company that employs him must be willing to sponsor the transfer of his visa and pay any associated fees. He considers returning to school to extend his stay in America, but is apprehensive about taking out his student loans.

Illumina announced in November that it would cut about 5% of its global workforce. A company spokesperson told CNBC that less than 10% of his affected employees are here on his H-1B or related visas.

“We are communicating with each employee individually to help them understand the impact on their employment eligibility and their options to remain in the United States,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “We are paying close attention to those affected and are working to review every situation to ensure compliance with immigration laws.”

The former employee said he dreamed of working for Illumina, putting down roots in the United States, and buying a home. He said he was just trying to find a way to stay in the country without getting into debt. In just a few months, “it’s like the difference between day and night,” he said.

look: Technician layoffs doubled from October to November

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