When Meta laid off 13% of its work force this month, many of those 11,000 employees had their H-1B visas rendered invalid.  They now have two months to either find another job under H-1B status, apply for a different visa, or leave the country.  Some were traveling abroad at the time and cannot legally return to their homes in the United States.  Many have children enrolled in the U.S. education system and spouses who also work in the United States. 

The U.S. government has listed Meta as an H-1B dependent company, definitionally one with over 15% of its workforce being H-1B visa holders.  Nearly half of all Meta employees are Asian as of this year.  While Meta has not disclosed the specific number of H-1B visa holders impacted by layoff, hundreds have flocked to a WhatsApp group to help each other navigate this dilemma.  As part of their severance package, Meta offered an immigration support hotline, which has been slow to respond at best and non-responsive at worst.  

H-1B visa holders fired from Meta have a 60-day grace period to either find another H-1B eligible job, acquire a different visa, or return to their country of origin. 

Some laid off Meta employees face unique dangers in returning to their countries of origin after having worked for the social media giant.  For example, Facebook is banned in Russia and considered an extremist company.  Laid off Meta employees of Russian origin are under extreme pressure to find a way to remain in the United States or face untold consequences of their employment.  Many laid off Meta employees now face the stark possibility that they may have to return to dangerous countries.

Based on H-1B lottery numbers, there is still a massive demand for H-1B workers in STEM fields.  500,000 registrations were filed in this year’s H-1B lottery, only 85,000 of which were selected.  Since H-1B transfers are cap-exempt, this could be an auspicious opportunity for both H-1B visa holders and employers.  On the other hand, Meta is not the only major tech company that has implemented layoffs and hiring freezes for a variety of reasons.  LinkedIn and other professional networking platforms are now flooded with Meta employees scrambling to find work.  We will continue to follow the situation as it progresses.

Sheila Danzig

Sheila Danzig is the director of CCI TheDegreePeople.com.  Sheila specializes in overturning RFEs and Denials for work visas.