Tens of thousands of people have been laid off by once-voracious tech employers in recent months. But one group has been particularly shortchanged: U.S. immigrants holding H-1B visas for workers with specialist skills.
Those much-sought visas are awarded to immigrants sponsored by an employer to come to the U.S., and the limited supply is used heavily by large tech companies. But if a worker is laid off, they have to secure sponsorship from another company within 60 days or leave the country.
U.S. dominance in science and technology has long depended on a steady flow of talented immigrants. But the H-1B system hasn't evolved much since the last major immigration bill in 1986. Now, pandemic-era economic uncertainty is reshaping tech giants and shining a new spotlight on the system's limitations. It shows workers, companies, and perhaps the U.S. as a whole losing out.
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