The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the tech sector but also has given a massive blow to the world economy, resulting in massive layoffs resulting in unemployment.
Amidst the poor world economy, the US economy is no better. Economic experts fear massive layoffs in various sectors of the American economy due to the current economic distress that is only going to deteriorate in coming weeks and months.
Indians with H-1B Visa to Go Under Fear
Priya K, a techie employed in a tech startup in USA is an H-1B visa holder, which means there shouldn’t be a problem for her to be assured of her job security.
However, she hasn’t been able to sleep these days due to thoughts of leaving the country, fearing that her company like many others in the USA, may get rid of H-1B workers.
There are many who are working without pay. It will not be too long before layoff begins. An industry source estimated that close to 20-30% of H-1B and H4 visa holders may be forced to return home in the next 5-7 months.
There are close to 3,00,000 H-1B visa holders in the US. It does not matter that some of them have been working in the US for as long as 10-15 years and are on their way to become permanent residents or citizens.
Indian Tech Cos’ Downfall due to Pandemic
Indian tech companies have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of H-1B visa. For Indians, the visa is a passport to becoming a permanent resident and it would not be too much of a stretch to say it has attracted many of them to the IT field.
In the US, one of the biggest markets for the IT firms, unemployment is on the rise. According to reports, close to 6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.
Reports estimate that the job losses in the US to be about 47 million. Larger retailers such as JCPenny and Macy’s have laid off workers. Hotel major Marriott too has reportedly laid off 4,000 employees. Norwegian Air has laid off 50 percent of its workforce. British Airways has laid off about 30,000 people.
H-1B Employees to be Laid Off
Initial reports suggest that quite a number of H-1B employees are being laid off. In some cases, companies have already informed their H-1B employees that they are on top of the list of being fired.
All these will directly impact the Indian IT service providers and its IT workers, who are contract employees there.
- If H-1B visas are valid and their job contract is terminated, they will have 60 days to find a new job. However, given the travel restrictions and recession, it will be difficult if not impossible, to find a new job.
- If their H-1B visa is expiring, renewing them now is tough since the USCIS and embassies are closed.
- In case of rejections, they will have to change their status to B2 visa (visitor). This means they cannot look for new jobs. So they will have to come back to India, find a new employer to sponsor the H-1B.
- This is applicable for those in the green card queue as well. Some of them have been working in the US for more than a decade.
- Many here who had applied for passport renewals are stuck. They cannot extend their visa nor change their status.