Indian workers face painful withdrawal from US

Layoffs across the tech industry, including companies like Twitter, Meta and Amazon, have affected a significant number of Indians working in the US on visas like H-1B. California-based journalist Savita Patel speaks to a worker facing the prospect of being forced to return to India if she can’t find her next job.

Indian engineer Surbhi Gupta, who has been working in the US since 2009, was surprised to be fired by Meta earlier this month. “I was doing well at work,” she says.

On Nov. 9, Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, announced it would cut 13% of its workforce. It was the first mass layoff in the company’s history, leaving 11,000 employees out of work.

“No one slept that night,” Gupta said. “I got an email at 6am. I didn’t have access to my computer or my office gym. It felt like a goodbye.”

Gupta is likely to become a familiar face to Indians. She is the 2018 Miss Bharat-California contest winner. netflix show india matchmaking.

Now she is among the thousands of educated and skilled immigrant workers laid off by US tech companies this month.

Most of them work in the US for HI-B visas. This is a nonimmigrant visa that allows companies to hire foreign nationals for up to six years in positions where they could not find a U.S. employee.

Owners can also apply for permanent residency in the United States and purchase properties in the country.

Gupta says he worked hard to build a life in the United States for “more than 15 years.”

Her visa now depends on finding her next job.

According to, a website that tracks tech layoffs, more than 120,000 tech workers have lost their jobs worldwide as a result of layoffs by US tech companies.

The company has not released India-specific figures, but San Jose-based immigration attorney Swati Kandelwa said, “The Indian community has been hit particularly hard.”

“We’re getting more consultation calls,” she says. “Everyone is feeling insecure, even those who haven’t been laid off fear that they will be laid off.” [fired] later. “

For Indian tech workers, layoffs don’t just mean looking for new jobs, they also mean finding employers willing to help them keep their jobs and pay the associated legal costs. To do.

“If your new employer cannot forward your visa application within 60 days, the remedy is for people to leave. [the US] When the paperwork is done, come back to work,” Kandelwal said.

“But on the realistic side, people will be stranded in India because there aren’t many visa stamp reservations available at consulates,” she says.

Waiting Time for Visa Appointment at US Consulate in India In some cases it reaches 800 days.

This is why layoffs are an unwelcome surprise to Indian workers.

Sowmya Iyer, lead product designer for ride-sharing app Lyft, said she was part of a team that “had taken steps internally to maintain the financial health of the company.”

But Iyer found herself among the hundreds of employees laid off at the company this month. “We didn’t expect it to hit us,” she says.

Mass layoffs feel like a “tech pandemic,” she explains. “My friend and his wife lost their jobs on the same day.


Mass layoffs at Meta leave 11,000 employees out of work

Iyer, who has student loans to pay back, said she had not yet told her parents, who live in the western Indian state of Gujarat, about the layoff.

In the United States, the O-1 visa, which is awarded to individuals with “outstanding ability and achievements,” says Iyer is confident of finding a job.

Her resume includes degrees from prestigious design schools in India and the United States, and her O-1 visa allows her to stay for 60 days after her job is finished.

The US WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act provides a buffer before the 60-day visa clock begins. WARN requires employers to give affected employees 60 days’ notice of a mass layoff.

“My previous employer gave me a month’s notice to help me secure a position here and find an employer, so now I have three months,” he said. she says.

However, even 90 days is a tight timeline for many Indians, and their plans have been thwarted. Many have families to feed and some have thousands of dollars in loans to pay off.

Naman Kapoor was in debt to pay for his master’s degree at New York University.

He was hired as an engineer at Meta after a few interviews, but was fired after seven weeks. “I received a cancellation email at 8am. [local time] It’s November 9th,” he says.

“The whole idea is that education in the United States involves work experience,” he says. “Studying in New York is very expensive. I worked to cover my living expenses.”

Mr. Kapoor is in the United States on an F-1 (OPT) visa and is only allowed 90 days of unemployment while in the United States.

“Meta offered four months’ salary as retirement benefits,” explains Kapoor. “But I only have three months to find another job or go back!”

Gupta says it will be difficult to find a new job in this environment. “It’s almost December. Hiring will be delayed due to holidays.”

Following the layoffs, Khandelwal says a community has formed to help those in crisis. Colleagues and employers are disseminating information and referring prospects online.

“I created Zeno, [a platform] To help the affected[workers]find jobs,” says Abhishek Guttgutia, a Bay Area-based tech worker.

Gutgutia says LinkedIn posts on Zeno have nearly 600,000 views. “About 100 candidates, 25 companies and 30 mentors signed up. Several immigration lawyers also volunteered. [their services].”

Meta employee Vidya Srinivasan said in her efforts to put together a ‘Meta Alumni Guide’ for people whose lives have changed overnight, ‘the heartfelt support from Meta-mates has flowed out. ‘ said he saw the Her online posts have been seen by more than a million people, she says.

In such hope, Indian migrant workers live impatiently while waiting for their next job.

“I’m tired of getting tested,” Gupta said. “How strong should I be?”

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