Amid the layoffs at Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover, things have got a little complicated for employees – especially if they are an H-1B visa holder. According to a Forbes report, Twitter has approximately 625 to 670 employees in H-1B status, which is nearly 8 per cent of the company’s roughly 7,500 employees around the world.
H-1B visa is a commonly used status by many tech firms in the US to hire international employees. It is a non-immigrant work visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
However, those laid off are now under the direct threat of their immigration status.
Employer obligations during layoff
“When an employer lays off an H-1B visa holder, three obligations are triggered,” said William Stock of Klasko Immigration Law Partners, in an interview with Forbes.
Stock said that in case of H-1B employment, a termination before the visa’s end date needs to notify the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of any ‘material change’ in the terms of the H-1B visa status. Moreover, the employer has to pay the employee the ‘reasonable costs of return transportation’ – meaning the air fare.
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The employer also needs to ensure that the employee is paid full salary until they are notified of the layoff.
Musk himself came to America as an international student and later obtained an H-1B visa so he could work in the United States, as per the Forbes report.
Also Read: What Elon Musk said on Twitter layoffs to avoid employee grant payout
Double whammy for employees
A layoff is difficult for anyone as it is. To top it off, as per the current norms for H-1B visa holders, employees relieved on such terms are on a 60-day deadline to leave the country or face consequences for violating their immigration status.
“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,” Kevin Miner, a partner with Fragomen, told the magazine.
This puts the employee in a difficult position, as they need to find another job within that grace period – not just because of income but also to maintain their immigration status and continue to live in the country.