US lawmaker seeks support for Indians hit by tech layoffs

Updated on Jan 25, 2023 02:08 AM IST

In the past month, big tech companies in the Valley — Meta, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, among others — have laid off over 50,000 employees.

Ro Khanna (HT)
Ro Khanna (HT)
By, Washington

As layoffs in the tech sector in Silicon Valley continue to disproportionately hit Indian professionals, Ro Khanna, the elected Congressman for the area in California, has said the United States Congress must do all it can to help those affected.

In the past month, big tech companies in the Valley — Meta, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, among others — have laid off over 50,000 employees. Combined with other companies, industry experts estimate there have been 200,000 job losses in the tech and related sectors since November. A disproportionate number of them, given their substantial presence in the Valley, have been Indians, many of them on the H1B visa, who have been struggling to find new jobs or face the prospect of getting uprooted.

Asked about the layoffs and the consequent suffering, Ro Khanna told HT that while his office hadn’t received any specific requests on H1B visas connected to the wave of tech layoffs, this obviously “deeply hurts” the community in Silicon Valley.

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“We should be doing all we can in Congress to support immigrant communities — including the Indian community working at these tech companies — who are heavily impacted by the layoffs,” he said.

Khanna said that this should include “comprehensive immigration reforms, creating better job opportunities for people across America, and continuing to keep tech talent here”. There are over 800,000 Indians in California, with many employed in tech companies, at all levels from the most senior leadership to entry-level positions.

Indian community leaders have asked elected representatives in the US Congress and California for the visa grace period to be extended beyond 60 days. At the moment, rules prescribe that after the cessation of employment, professionals on H1B visas have a grace period of 60 days to find a new employer. The new employer has to then notify the concerned department enabling a visa extension for the worker; if this doesn’t happen, they have to leave the country once the grace period gets over.


    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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