Job losses feared for H-1B visa holders, one fourth could be women

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Indians in the United States fear big job losses and expect massive layoffs in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic is hitting businesses around the globe with many closing out offices, cutting down temporary workforce or removing back-offices. A latest report by PTI says foreign technology professionals on H-1B visas have asked the Trump administration to extend their permissible post-job loss limit to stay in the US from the existing 60 to 180 days. As per a 2018 report, three fourths of the H-1B visa holders in US are Indians.

The H-1B visa is a kind of work visa that permits American firms to to employ foreigners in speciality occupations and has been mostly very popular among tech professionals. One in every four H1B visa holders is a woman. Many Indian female executives are working in the United States on this visa, and mostly are in the tech field or medical linked research fields. Of the 419,637 H-1B visa holders as per the 2018 report, 106,096 (or 25.3 per cent) were females as against 311,997 (or 74.3 per cent males).

While American technology companies depend on H1B visas to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China, our countries too have been finding that this ‘outsourcing’ business drives a lot of funds to India too. It’s been a business model at work.

The current rules in America require an H-1B visa holder to leave the US along with their family members within 60 days of losing their job. Those on H-1B visas are not eligible to unemployment benefits. They are also not entitled to the social security benefits, even though there is deductions from their salary for this purpose.

Economic experts fear massive layoffs in various sectors of the American economy due to the current economic distress that is only going to deteriorate in coming weeks and months.

According to PTI and NDTV, “initial reports suggest that quite a number of H-1B employees are being laid off. In some cases, companies have already informed their H-1B employees that they are on top of the list of being fired.”

MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, redBus employees face salary cut, fear of job loss as well. The parent company might also lay off about 400 employees who are not on its payroll as per a Business Today report.