AS ELON MUSK LAYS OFF HALF OF ALL TWITTER EMPLOYEES, H-1B AND L-1 WORKERS ARE LEFT IN LIMBO
US-based tech companies hire a significant number of H-1B workers and many are considered “H-1B dependent” which means that a notable portion of their workforce is in the country on an employment-related visa. Widespread layoffs such as those occurring at Twitter and Meta have long and lasting consequences for these employees whose ability to stay in the country is determined by their employment status. Within the last week, an unanticipated wave of firing by Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, has left nearly 700 foreign national employees either without a job or in fear of such. Of the 7,500 people currently employed by Twitter, roughly 8% are nonimmigrants who are in the United States on an H-1B or L-1 visa. Meta, Facebook's parent company, quickly followed suit and laid off 11,000 employees, or 13% of their entire workforce. Affected H-1B workers have only 60 days in which to find another employer to sponsor them or apply to change to a different visa. If they cannot find another employer or transfer to another visa, they are obligated to return to their home country. The situation is even more dire for L-1 employees as their visa issuance was predicated on being an intra-company transfer and they do not have the ability to look for replacement qualifying employment.
EDUCATIONAL ACCREDITTING AGENCY CHANGES MAY IMPACT CERTAIN IMMIGRATION BENEFITS
On November 1, 2022, USCIS stated that educational institutions accredited by ACICS will no longer be considered “accredited” for immigration purposes. This is likely to impact students in English language program that have been previously accredited by the agency as well as F-1 students who are applying for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. USCIS will issue RFEs to any applicants who filed Form I-539 on or after August 19, 2022 and who are requesting to change their status or become reinstated to attend an ACICS-accredited English language study program. For students who are applying for STEM OPT, they must have received their degree from an educational institution that was accredited by the Educational Department at the time they filed their STEM OPT applications. If the date listed on the Form I-20 is on or after August 19, 2022, USCIS will deny the OPT extension. H-1 Masters Cap cases will also be impacted as degrees received from accredited institutions after the August 19, 2022 cut off will not longer quality as a U.S. masters or higher degree for the purposes of qualifying for an H-1B advanced degree exemption.
DEMOCRATIC REPS CALL ON CONGRESS TO INVESTIGATE REPORTS OF MIGRANTS DOCUMENTS BEING WITHHELD
The federal government is reviewing the internal practices of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol amongst reports of migrants' passports, birth certificates and other personal identification documents not being returned or being improperly discarded. On November 4, members of Congress authored a letter to the General Comptroller questioning why the policies and procedures in place to protect migrants in these situations is seemingly not being followed. The Representatives noted that the standard for “short-term custody of individuals held by CBP” clearly dictates that individual property, property which has not deemed contraband, shall be safeguarded and returned.