Tech cos to H-1B workers: We feel your pain
Technology companies, which have laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, are already feeling the heat from politicians about their support of the H-1B foreign worker program at a time when many Americans are jobless. (Read the Reuters story explaining why, as a result, tech companies might have to tone down their campaign to hire more H-1B workers this year.)
Last month, Microsoft was the specific target of Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who shot off a letter to the tech bellwether saying it should lay off foreign workers before laying off domestic workers.
Microsoft responded it was laying off both H-1B workers and Americans, and that it was extending support equally to all affected employees. While that may be the case, foreign workers often have a harder time if they’re laid off.
Under the H-1B visa rules, a worker who loses his job cannot stay on in the United States without changing to a different visa or finding another job. With layoffs all around, it’s not the best market in which to find a job, which means foreign workers could be forced to drop their American lives and head back home.
But some recruiters say companies are sympathetic to the plight of these workers. Recruiter Adam Charlson, who works at Korn/Ferry International’s Silicon Valley office, said companies have been quite aggressive about trying to protect people on H-1B visas. “Organizations are actively doing whatever possible to keep the loopholes open to help H-1Bs find other employment,” he said.
That could mean setting an employment termination date in the future so that the laid-off foreign worker has some time to look for another job or settle his affairs, he said. It could also include things like outplacement services, including helping people brush up on interview skills and writing resumes, and even emotional counseling.
Outplacement services can be especially helpful for H-1B workers, said John Challenger, CEO of outplacement services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Unlike their American counterparts, foreign workers may not have access to informal networks — such as alumni groups and family networks — which can ofte provide leads for new jobs, he said. Tough times for all.
Keep an eye on:
- Barry Diller’s IAC. They sold off Internet dating site Match.com’s European business and appointed a new CEO. Could more assets be on the block? (Paidcontent.org)
- Consumer advocacy blog The Consumerist. It was a post on their website that eventually led to Facebook backtracking on its terms of service. Maybe they’ll have something else to say soon. (The New York Times)
- The New York Times, which killed its dividend for the time being, saying it will help reduce debt. (Reuters)