Twitter layoffs leave H-1B visa holders in a pickle; have 60 days to find new job or get out of US

New Delhi: The world’s richest billionaire and Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk has reduced the 7,500 people strong workforce of the platform by half as he sacked the rest after his acquisition of the microblogging site. Musk last week became the owner of Twitter, months after making the first bid to buy the social media company in April.

The mass Twitter layoffs have not only resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs but has also cast a doubt on some of their immigration statuses. Twitter employees working on American work visas, like the H-1B and L-1, now have just 60 days to find a new job. They either need another firm to sponsor them or leave the United States.

About 625 to 670 H-1B visa holders in Twitter accounted for about 8 per cent of the total workforce, indicated a Forbes report, citing a National Foundation for American Policy analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data.

While Twitter confirmed that the layoffs have affected 50 per cent of the workforce, it is unclear how many were foreign workers out of them. In the US, foreign workers generally work under H-1B, L-1 or O-1 visas, each having a different set of rules.

What next for H-1B visa holders?

While H-1B visa holders have a 60-day grace period, it’s much more difficult for workers on L-1 and O-1 visas. They may have to leave soon after their employment is terminated, except in rare circumstances, Poorvi Chothani, Managing Partner at LawQuest, told Economic Times.
Usually an H-1B employee, when laid off, has 60 days grace period to file an H-1B through another employer. The exact grace period is calculated by looking at the time remaining on their approved status. If the time remaining is less than 60 days, they have lesser time, according to Rajiv Khanna, Managing Attorney, Immigration.com.

However, one plus point the sacked H-1B workers have is that they have already been counted against the annual H-1B quota, so it is relatively easier for them to find another sponsor. The petition by a new employer needs to be submitted before the 60th day, Chothani added.

Meanwhile, the H-1B workers who have been counted in the H-1B cap lottery within the last 6 years do not have to wait for the next lottery. They can continue to look for jobs in the US from their home country in case they are unable to find another sponsor in the 60-day grace period, and have to leave America.

Once an individual gets a new job, the new employer can immediately apply for a petition that will allow them to move back to the US once it is approved and they have a visa stamp.

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