The Layoff Crisis in the United States and its Impact on Immigration
The United States economy continues to struggle, and it looks like it will be a while before things improve. With job losses mounting and the country’s Unemployment Rate touching its highest figures in recent years; several employees are finding themselves out of work as companies are laying off workers and shutting down operations. Given that a significant portion of the Workforce in the United States comprises of specialized workers who are generally foreign employees, it has created a ripple effect on the status of the Immigration applications of those who have lost their jobs. If you are one such individual who has been laid off recently or want to know what steps can be taken to secure alternative means for your Immigration applications, here is everything you need to know about the Layoff Crisis in the U.S. and its impact on Immigration.
The Layoff Crisis in the United States
The U.S. economy has slowly started slipping into a recession which is expected to peak in the coming year, and a worsening economic downturn in the U.S. will see many employees getting laid off from their companies. The unemployment rate currently stands at just under 5% in all states; and just under 4 % overall. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics officially defines unemployment as “people who are jobless, actively seeking work, and available to take a job”. Layoffs specifically in the Tech sector, which is a field requiring several specialized workers who are generally foreign employees has seen a significant spike in the last two quarters of 2022  as can observantly be seen to have a huge spike as depicted below:
This steep rise in unemployment, however, has not taken the economic slowdown into consideration. With so many people looking for jobs and being unable to find them, layoffs are becoming more imminent as companies face the dilemma as to how can they cut costs but keep their Companies working and in profits. The layoff crisis in the tech sector has seen a significant rise as investors have cut off funding and companies in order to turn profitable are looking at cutting down the workforce as a result of the same which can be seen below:
The Employees however have some safeguards in regard to Layoffs, as the Federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) Act (54 FR 16064); acts as a means for the Employees to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market.
The WARN Act also provides a safeguard as it mandates the payment of Severance to the Employees who will be laid off. Severance pay is a cash payment that an Employer makes to an Employee when the Employer wants to layoff the Employee. The WARN Act was implemented to safeguard the Employees, their families and communities as it mandates Employers to follow certain norms while following the procedures of laying off Current Employees, which include providing 60 days of notice or severance pay for the same duration. 
The Impact of Layoffs on Immigration
The U.S. workforce is made up of many different nationalities and depends heavily on foreign workers with specialized knowledge. As a result, it has many new workers who come to the United States looking for work. With jobs gone, the loss of income and lack of clarity about prospects going forward will make it difficult for people to stay back in the U.S. under most immigration categories. This makes it crucial, that we understand how these immigration policies impact those who are already here to plan for their future needs.
H1-B visas are issued as temporary employment-dependent visas wherein the Employer sponsors the particular Non-Immigrant workers (Employees), and these Employees will have no choice but to return home unless they find new employment under a valid visa category within 60 days of their previous employment, however, it has to be noted that such H1-B Employees who have been laid off should consult an Immigration Attorney in order to understand when their effective date of employment was terminated with regards to them trying to find new employment to maintain H-1B status. Further, those on H4 visas (Spouses & Dependents of H1-B visa holders) will also be forced to either leave with their Primary Applicant or apply for work permits and change their visa status.
Several workers who are on these H1-B visas, further apply for Immigrant Visas by filing an I-140 Petition depending upon whether they have a permanent offer of employment from their Employer. For those Employees who have been Laid off and were in the process of getting an I-140 approved; the 180-day Portability rule acts as an alternative through which such Employees can port the status of their I-140 application as long as they find alternative employment in a similar occupational field as their previous employment.
The situation is further trickier for those who have entered the U.S. under the L-1 visa category. The L-1 visa category requires the Employees to have worked previously at a foreign branch of their employer for a period of 1 year prior to their admission into the U.S. under the L-1 visa category. The same would make them ineligible to find another employer under the same visa category. They further cannot change their employment status from the L-1 visa category to the H-1 visa category as they would not have been counted towards the H-1B CAP.
The U.S. economy is experiencing a severe downturn and layoffs are likely to increase in the coming years. The international community will further be affected by this trend too, as many foreign citizens are likely to be forced out of their jobs if the recession continues. However, Employees do have several alternatives in order to help them with either finding or being trained for another job, which they can apply for based on their credentials.
However, if you are a foreign citizen who is unable to find a new job due to the economy, you may apply for a new alternate visa. There is no need to worry about being counted towards the H-1B CAP and if your current visa status is not affected by the economic downturn; it is suggested that you convert your visa to any other such alternative visa as per the advice of an Immigration Attorney.
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