The U.S. technology industry is experiencing a significant downturn in 2023.
As the tech sector’s profits dwindle significantly, many firms, including some of the most prestigious companies in the industry, have been forced to cut costs and engage in massive layoffs. As a result, thousands of employees have—quite unexpectedly—found themselves jobless and with little prospect of finding new employment.
Microsoft, for instance, announced in January 2023 that it would fire 10,000 employees, in keeping with similar measures taken by Twitter, Amazon, Meta, and Google. Google has announced approximately 12,000 layoffs as well.
Throughout the industry, over 200,000 workers have lost their jobs since November 2022.
Perhaps no group has been affected more adversely by this swift reversal than workers on temporary U.S. visas. A significant number of this group—as much as 30% to 40%— is made up of Indian workers on H-1B, L-1, and other non-immigrant work visas.
While being laid off unexpectedly is challenging in itself, these Indian visa workers depend on their employment status to remain in the United States. In many cases, they have a very limited timeframe to find a new employment sponsor—or be forced to leave the country.
In this article, we explore the limitations of working in the United States under an H-1B or L1 work visa. We then explain how investing in the EB-5 visa can allow Indian workers to adjust their immigration status immediately—despite being laid off—and obtain an employment authorization document (EAD) in a matter of months.
Limitations of H-1B and L-1 Work Visas
L-1 work visas are designed for a company’s workers who, because of new managerial positions or a need for highly specialized skills, require work authorization to fulfill an important role for their firm in the United States. Similarly, the H-1B category is for foreign nationals needed for highly specialized positions in the United States.
Technology firms are among the largest employers of H-1B workers, especially Indian professionals.
However, if an L-1 or H-1B worker is laid off—and thus loses their employer’s sponsorship—they will typically have approximately 60 days to find a new employment sponsor or have to leave the United States.
In ordinary times for the tech industry, finding a new position and employer sponsor in such a narrow timeframe can already be difficult. But during the sector’s current downturn, and considering its massive layoffs, being hired on such short notice is simply unrealistic for most H-1B and L-1 visa holders.
Having to abruptly leave one’s employment and home in the United States naturally has an impact on Indian workers’ career and personal pursuits. For families, having to uproot their children from their education and community in the United States may be another unexpected consequence.
An H-1B employee who was laid off in 2008 notes, “I don’t think there’s any immigrant that comes to America and gets a highly competitive job expecting to be let go from it and have to leave the county, their apartment, their lives, their girlfriends and boyfriends and friends and kids and all of the things, at the flip of a switch.”
Despite the difficulties that Indian H-1B and L-1 workers currently face, there is a straightforward path for them to adjust their immigration status immediately and remain in the United States—regardless of their employment status.
Adjusting Immigration Status Through an EB-5 Investment
Since March 2022, holders of non-immigrant visas—including H-1B and L-1—who invest in the EB-5 visa have an appealing opportunity at their disposal. Upon filing Form I-526E, the initial immigrant petition for EB-5 investors, they are entitled to adjust their immigration status concurrently through Form I-485. In this way, temporary visa holders can immediately adjust their status to “pending” and not have to leave the United States—even if they longer have an employer sponsor.
What is more, filing the I-526E and I-485 petitions concurrently allows investors to obtain both travel authorization and an EAD in a matter of months. This major benefit essentially allows temporary visa holders to make an EB-5 investment and quickly gain many of the benefits of a permanent Green Card—the ability to live and work anywhere in the United States—before actually obtaining their EB-5 visas.
This is perhaps the fastest and most straightforward way for Indian tech employees on work visas to avoid leaving the United States and quickly gain permission to work for any employer, or even start their own business.
Reduced Demand for H-1B and L-1 Tech Workers
There is another important reason why Indian tech workers on H-1B or L-1 visas should consider making an EB-5 investment.
Many major tech employers have not only carried out massive layoffs of employees on temporary work visas; they have also suspended their Green Card processing altogether. The lack of demand for new hires in the sector logically makes it less important for these companies to source talent from other countries.
Google is a primary example of a company that has paused its hiring of foreign professionals on work visas.
This situation makes it all the more difficult for laid-off workers to find new employment in the tech industry and gain an H-1B, L-1, or similar visa.
In contrast, the EB-5 program is the quickest path for work visa holders to obtain an EAD and remain in the United States.
Getting Started With EB-5 Immigration
Indian tech workers or other individuals on temporary visas will need guidance from an immigration attorney to begin the EB-5 process.
Moreover, EB-5 investors are advised to carefully research potential investment opportunities to ensure their compliance with USCIS standards and financial viability. Doing so can significantly increase their chances of successfully obtaining an EB-5 Green Card and a return on their investment capital.
EB5AN is proud to offer low-risk projects. Our commitment to our investors’ immigration and financial success is demonstrated in our projects’’ solid financial standing, USCIS compliance, and numerous guaranties for investors.
In a recent interview, one of our investors, an H-1B visa holder from India, explained why he chose EB5AN’s Twin Lakes project as the best investment option to remain in the United States.