What Happens When a Foreign Worker Gets Laid Off?
For H1B visa workers hit by Tech layoffs, the clock is ticking.
The H1B visa’s strict employment requirements propel laid-off immigrants to find jobs in a shorter amount of time than their non-immigrant counterparts.
In order to find a job quickly, laid-off immigrants are more likely to move to a new state than laid-off non-immigrants.
Since the H1B visa requires that a holder’s employment is tied to their specialty training, laid-off immigrants are less likely to change roles in their new job than non-immigrants.
When H1B visa holders lose their job, they have 60 days to find a new job, or they need to leave the US immediately. H1B is a highly-sought after visa category that is designated for specialized foreign workers with at least a Bachelor's Degree, many of whom work in tech. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the recent tech layoffs have sent shockwaves through H1B workers and left them scrambling for new jobs. But what happens after a foreign worker on an H1B visa gets laid off?
Once H1B workers are laid off, the clock starts ticking. In order to comply with the 60-day rule, immigrants find jobs faster than their domestic counterparts. Looking at the outflows from tech companies that experienced layoffs in 2022 and focusing on job transitions that are reported to have been completed in the US, we find that immigrants spend 10 days fewer than natives between jobs on average.
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Immigrants can’t afford to be picky given the USCIS deadlines. They may need to make sacrifices to find a job faster. One major sacrifice is having to relocate: We find that laid-off immigrants are more willing than non-immigrants to move between states for a new job.
On the other hand, immigrants are less flexible when it comes to switching roles. An H1B visa comes with restrictions on the kind of jobs that immigrants can take, with their roles limited to those directly related to their specialty training. As a result, immigrants are much less likely to change roles for a new job.
Unexpected layoffs can throw the lives of H1B workers into turmoil, resulting in the fastest-moving 60 days of their lives. But there is a silver lining in the midst of this chaos: Our data suggest that over 90% of laid off immigrants find a job in the US and avoid deportation. Laid-off immigrants face a tall order. But in the end, they get the job done.