February 9, 2023

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Tech layoffs in the US are sending foreign workers scrambling to find new jobs

Tech layoffs in the US are sending foreign workers scrambling to find new jobs

“Not only are tech companies laying off people in unprecedented numbers, but they’re also implementing hiring freezes, so there are likely to be few alternative jobs for migrant workers,” she said.

Mr Jain, who lost his job at Microsoft in October, is among tens of thousands of Indian engineers who have worked for years creating software at IT companies like Cisco, social media platforms like Meta and online retailers like Amazon. Because of their crucial role, and the dearth of American STEM graduates, many foreign workers are sponsored by their employers for permanent residence in the United States.

While they lay off work awaiting approval, immigrants built their lives in the United States: They had American children, took out mortgages and became rooted in their communities.

Most of them hold highly skilled worker visas known as H-1Bs. There are more than 500,000 people in the United States under visas, the largest number coming from India, followed by China, and most of them are in the fields of science and technology.

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Demand for such talent has risen as the American economy has become increasingly dependent on technology. Between 2000 and 2019, the number of technology workers in the United States jumped 44 percent, to 10.8 million from 7.5 million. Many of them command six-figure salaries for programming, coding, and other skills.

As of 2019, foreign-born workers made up nearly a quarter of all STEM workers in the country, up from about 16 percent in 2000, according to an analysis of census data by the US Immigration Council.

Visa holders are concentrated in California, home of Twitter, Meta, and Apple, and in Washington state, home of Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow, and Expedia. But they are also in states like Arkansas, toiling at the headquarters of Tyson, the poultry processor, to improve production efficiency, and at Walmart, designing self-checking systems.