Tech winter is dire for immigrant visa holders

Tech companies use H-1B visas to hire skilled workers from overseas. But now they’re laying them off.

As tech layoffs continue, workers are struggling to find new jobs during the holiday season — arguably the worst time to do so.

For H-1B immigrants, it’s even worse.

What’s an H-1B?

A renewable three-year work visa that US companies — especially tech — use to hire skilled workers. In 2021, 68.8% of the ~407k H-1B beneficiaries worked in computer-related fields.

But because H-1Bs are tied to employment, workers who lose their jobs have 60 days to find another or leave the US, per NPR.

What about citizenship?

That’d be great, but there’s a huge backlog.

Congress caps how many employer-sponsored green cards the US issues annually, and how many can be issued per birth country — including dependents.

  • There are 1.4m people waiting for an employment-based green card.
  • About 74% of H-1B beneficiaries are from India, meaning for many, it’s a ~90-year wait.

So, what can be done?

Well, Congress’ efforts to reduce the green card backlog have mostly stalled, per Forbes.

For now, an immigration attorney told BuzzFeed that workers could try to secure another kind of visa (not always easy) or become a partner’s dependent (which might not allow them to work).

Others are suggesting Canada as an option, where immigration is easier.

Impacted workers can also get on this database, which is shared with hiring managers across the US.

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