Employee layoffs at some of the world’s biggest tech giants are fueling a flooded and volatile market. It’s a frightening state for new hires and skilled mid-career professionals, and it has dire effects on hundreds of thousands of foreign workers(Opens in a new window) and visa holders. And, according to new published estimates, this impact could be disproportionately devastating for just one population: India’s IT employees.
Reported by financial news site minta number of “industry insiders” believe that between 30 and 40% of IT layoffs(Opens in a new window) employees concerned in temporary work status from India. Given the national estimate of 200,000 IT workers directly affected by layoffs since November, that means potentially 80,000 people now face the task of finding stable employment within 60 days before being forced back into work. their country of origin.
Most of these employees, including a large number of china tech workers(Opens in a new window), are on nonimmigrant work visas like the H-1B, a three-year temporary visa with an option to extend. In 2022, many technology workers and advocates protested against current congressional limits(Opens in a new window), and the lack of oversight, for workers on visas like H-1Bs, who they say are often exploited by needy tech employers. This follows an industry outcry over a 2017 government decision to suspend H-1B visas(Opens in a new window)as well as an executive order signed by former President Donald Trump that required the issuance of H-1B visas to better paid and better educated employees(Opens in a new window), rather than through a lottery system. The Trump administration’s foreign labor decisions had ripple effects on wives and spouses(Opens in a new window)also,(Opens in a new window) and even incited global protests in countries reliant on international labor opportunities, such as India.
However, at the same time, layoffs are sweeping through this gang of employees who are already certified and job opportunities are becoming increasingly rare(Opens in a new window), the demand for new H-1B visas has increased, especially in technology fields. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, computer-related jobs accounted for nearly 70 percent(Opens in a new window) of H-1B recipients approved in 2021. For 2023, the government agency received 483,000 applications, an increase of 57%, according to Bloomberg Law(Opens in a new window). Visas are also becoming less and less accessible to many, as the US government has announced its plans to raise fees for H-1B sponsors(Opens in a new window).
Employees facing the sudden removal of their sources of income and immigration status have relied on networks of people stuck in similar situations. As mint reported, some seek help through international organizations such as the Global Indian Technology Professionals Association (GITPRO) and the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS), or visa worker networking websites. , as Go Zeno(Opens in a new window). Others are looking for informal ways to find these needed jobs, for Google Forms and career sites like LinkedIn(Opens in a new window), TIME reported in December. Same law groups(Opens in a new window) are stepping in to help employees find visa-eligible work, while many are seeking immigration alternatives to their H-1B status(Opens in a new window).
The tech industry is no stranger to ethical debates over turnovers and their human costs, as recent tech downsizing coincides with industry-wide concerns. regarding the treatment of employees. For example, the development of popular AI app ChatGPT using underpaid workers in Kenya exposed employees to violent and graphic online content. Other workforces, such as call center workers based in countries like India and the Philippines, face online harassment and even physical threats(Opens in a new window) At work. And mechanization that goes so far as to mask employees’ accents with “white-sounding” robotic AI has contributed to the evolution of an increasingly anonymous industry that is now shedding staff en masse.
But beyond the impersonal scale of mass layoffs and corporate revenue targets lie the lived realities of those doing skilled work – thousands of real people supporting real families with immediate needs, now struggling to protect their future.