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Indian workers endure a painful exit owing to US tech layoffs

Some struggled for almost 15 years to establish a life in the US, and now their visas hinge on finding employment.

Indian workers endure a painful exit owing to US tech layoffs
Photo by ConvertKit / Unsplash
  • Many are concerned that if they cannot find work, they may be sent back to India
  • The tech pandemic did not spare even those who were performing well
  • H-1B, O-1, and F-1 workers are all worried about finding work before their visas expire

Numerous Indians with H-1B visas employed in the US have been impacted by layoffs across the tech sector, including companies like Twitter, Meta, and Amazon. If they can't find another job, many are afraid they may be sent back to India (1).

Lead product designer Sowmya Iyer of ride-hailing service Lyft claims she was a team member and had taken actions internally to preserve the company's financial stability. She wasn't expecting to be smacked with this, but she became one of the hundreds of employees the corporation laid off this month.

She equated the widespread layoffs to the tech pandemic since her friend and his wife both lost their jobs on the same day and now everyone is in the same situation and offers condolences. In addition, Sowmya owes money on student loans and hasn't informed her parents in Gujarat, a state in western India, about her losing a job.

Sowmya Iyer has remarkable skill and accomplishment that qualifies her for an O-1 visa in the US, and she is optimistic that she will be able to find employment. She has degrees from prominent design institutions in the US and India on her resume, and her O-1 visa allows her to remain in the country for 60 days following the end of any employment (2).

The WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act of America allows a cushion before the 60-day visa clock begins (3). Businesses must provide affected employees with a 60-day notice for a mass layoff. Her old company has given her a month's notice, which gives her three months to verify her status here and assist her in finding employment.

Indian workers endure a painful exit owing to US tech layoffs
Photo by Nicole Geri / Unsplash

However, for many people, even 90 days is a short timeframe that has upset plans because many have families to support and expensive loans to pay off. After several interviews, Naman Kapoor was employed by Meta as an engineer but was let go seven weeks later. Naman Kapoor had taken out loans to pay for his master's program at New York University.

On November 9 at 8 a.m. (local time), he was terminated from working as an engineer with Meta. He explained that the premise behind US education is that it incorporates work experience, that studying in New York is quite expensive, and that he works to pay for his living expenses.

According to his F-1 (OPT) visa, Mr. Kaporr can only be unemployed for 90 days while in the US. Additionally, he mentioned that Meta had offered him four months' pay as severance but added that he now had three months to find new employment or he would have to return to his previous position (4).

Since it is December and hiring is slow due to the holidays, finding a new job in this atmosphere will be difficult. The community has emerged in the wake of the layoffs, according to Ms. Khandelwal, and coworkers and employers have been disseminating information and providing online referrals for potential candidates.

According to a Meta employee named Vidya Srinivasan, who saw a heartwarming outpouring of support from Meta-mates in her efforts to put together a Meta Alumni guide for those whose lives changed overnight and whose online posts were seen by over a million people (5).

Indian immigrant workers must wait on tenterhooks until they find their next job.

Ms. Gupta adds,

"I am sick of being tested."

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