Several months ago, Silicon Valley and the wider tech industry experienced a dramatic series of layoffs. Employers like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other giants laid off thousands of employees each, with nearly 95,000 people losing their jobs in just a few weeks.
This number included thousands of H-1B visa holders. Tech companies hire a significant majority of all H-1B candidates nationwide, so the industry’s layoffs naturally affected these professionals heavily. Unfortunately, these workers faced a struggle that U.S. citizens and permanent residents did not: they had to find new work directly related to their training or leave the country within 60 days.
Despite these long odds, more than 90% of laid-off H-1B holders achieved this goal. These visa recipients found new jobs that meet USCIS’ strict criteria in less than two months, despite the tech industry’s sudden shrinkage. According to the report, most of these workers found new, qualified employment 10 days faster than other laid-off employees.
That’s an impressive feat at any time, but especially when a field is going through serious changes. It also demonstrates how in demand the skills of these candidates really are. Here’s why H-1B visa holders were so successful at finding new work and why so many companies were eager to hire them on short notice.
What Makes Hiring H-1B Employees So Appealing?
Demand for the H-1B program has grown steadily for the past decade. The program allows employers who meet certain criteria to hire qualified professionals from outside the country and sponsor them for employment visas. While the H-1B visa has strict requirements, that’s part of the appeal: if a candidate can meet USCIS standards, they are clearly an appealing candidate.
There are two downsides to the H-1B visa, though. First, the sponsorship process is time-consuming, particularly if an employer attempts the process without qualified legal counsel. Second, demand for these visas currently outstrips the supply by a significant margin – only 14.6% of eligible registrants were selected to apply for a visa in the most recent H-1B lottery.
These factors can make sponsoring an H-1B employee intimidating. However, once the sponsorship is confirmed and the visa is received, the visa holder is approved to spend three to six years working for their sponsor in the U.S. and has a clear path to obtain a green card.
This is a win-win for the employer and employee. But what happens if the employer lays off the worker? In that case, they only have 60 days to find new work in their field.
Just because one company is performing layoffs does not mean the employee’s skills are any less useful. They are now heavily motivated to pursue new employment and have proof that the federal government considers them highly skilled.
That makes laid-off H-1B workers very appealing to other companies. These organizations can take over the sponsorship of the workers so they do not have to leave the country. In return, the new sponsors receive highly-qualified workers ready to begin immediately without going through the H-1B lottery.
How to Hire Laid-Off H-1B Workers
While the layoffs at the beginning of 2023 were remarkable for their size and timing, that was all. Tech companies perform layoffs regularly as they change priorities or undergo acquisitions. As such, H-1B workers routinely find themselves out of work. If your company is searching for a highly skilled employee, these people could be the perfect pool from which to draw new talent.
While hiring laid-off H-1B recipients is significantly simpler than sponsoring someone through the lottery, it still takes care and attention to detail. Failing to follow USCIS regulations can lead to delays and expensive application resubmissions and could put your candidate at risk of being deported. The best way to assume H-1B sponsorship of your new candidate is by working with an experienced immigration attorney. Litwin & Smith can help. Our skilled lawyers have decades of experience guiding sponsors and visa applicants through the USCIS process. We can help you file your application correctly so your new hire can get started as soon as possible without risking their visa. Learn more about how we can assist you by scheduling your consultation today.