Twitter Layoffs Cause Of Concern For H-1B Visa Holders: Report


Mass layoffs at Twitter have created pressure on employees working on H-1B visa.

Twitter’s mass layoffs had put a lot of pressure on employees who worked as foreign nationals in the United States, particularly for the H-1B visa holders, according to a report in Forbes. As per the existing norms, they are now on a 60-day deadline with their immigration status under threat. Finding a new job for these fired employees, who are in the country while holding a H-1B is extremely important to maintain their immigration status, the outlet further said.

H-1B visas are non-immigrant visas that allow foreign workers in specialised occupations to reside and work in the US for a limited time period. To qualify for such a visa, a foreign worker must be sponsored by an employer in the United States. Interestingly, Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk too arrived in the US on H-1B visa years ago to work, the Forbes report further said.

The outlet said that there are roughly 625 to 670 Twitter employees in H-1B status, or about 8 per cent of the company’s 7,500 employees, based on a National Foundation for American Policy analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data. With the mass layoffs happening at the microblogging platform, it is not clear how many foreign nationals were laid off. 

Also Read: Reboot, Then Blank Screen: How Twitter Staff Learnt They Were Fired

What it means for employees: 

Foreign nationals in the United States work under H-1B, L-1 or O-1 visas. All these come with a different set of rules. It is to be noted that the USCIS regulation of the year 2017 gives H-1B visa holders a 60-day “grace period” after termination.

Kevin Miner, a partner with Fragomen, told Forbes, “Once employment is terminated, an H-1B visa holder enters a 60-day grace period during which he or she needs to leave the U.S., seek a change of status or have another employer file an H-1B petition or other immigration petition on their behalf,” 

He added that if the above mentioned is not done, then the person is seen as violating their immigration status. Mr Miner further said “H-1B workers benefit from the fact that they have already been counted against the annual H-1B quota, so it is somewhat easier for another employer to sponsor them. Employees who hold other kinds of immigration status, like an L-1 intracompany transfer visa, often have a more difficult time addressing their immigration situation than someone who has H-1B status because it is a bit easier for another employer to file a petition for them in a short amount of time.”

What it means for employers: 

The employers are required to notify US Citizenship and Immigration Services when there has been “material change” to the terms and conditions of an approved H-1B petition, such as when the employment of an H-1B employee has been terminated. 

According to the official website of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Your employer will be liable for the reasonable costs of your return transportation if your employer terminates your employment before the end of your period of authorised stay. Your employer is not responsible for the costs of your return transportation if you voluntarily resign from your position.” 

It adds that the employer will pay the H-1B worker a salary which is no less than the salary paid to similarly qualified workers.

Mr Miner said in an interview to Forbes, “It is particularly important for employers to ensure that these requirements are fulfilled because they can be subject to significant fines and back wage awards if this is not done correctly. Moreover, terminations that come from a layoff can sometimes result in a terminated employee being unhappy with their former employer and thus more likely to file a complaint with the government regarding immigration compliance.”

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