The drumbeat of layoffs that have pummeled the tech sector since the start of the year sent tens of thousands of H1-B Visa holders on a race against the clock to find new work within 60 days, or face deportation. For those first to the starting block, that deadline has now passed. The good news is, most crossed the finish line.
At Revelio Labs, where we gather the world of publicly available workforce data to understand labor trends, we found that over 90% of laid-off H1-B visa holders were able to secure new work that met the program’s rigid criteria. In fact, compared to native workers, immigrants found work 10 days faster, largely because with so much at stake, they were more likely to move states for a new job–but that’s where room to be flexible ends, as visa holders are only permitted to take roles directly related to their specialty training.
In fact, we found that while 67% of non-immigrant workers changed roles after being laid off, only 49% of visa holders did the same. With Big Tech tightening its belt so drastically, how were so many able to find roles in their specialty? The answer has to do with market demand.
Tech jobs remain highly prevalent outside of tech companies. In this way, the stars aligned for laid-off tech workers on H1-B visas, as one door closed, many others were sitting open. The H1-B Visa program works best when it allows participants to ebb and flow in lockstep with market demand, but it’s not a naturally market-sensitive talent pipeline. According to Revelio Labs’ data, 78% of Fortune 500 companies are currently sitting with critical roles going unfilled for six months or more–which wouldn’t be the case if the H1-B visa program afforded holders more flexibility, and if there was greater cooperation between public and private actors to funnel qualified talent where it’s most needed.
Even as layoffs continue, our labor shortages aren’t going anywhere. Revelio Labs found that over 43.4% of companies had more than 50 technical roles that they were unable to fill in the past year, which make up 68.8% of approved H-1B visa holders in 2021.
As it stands, our system for awarding visas, which could otherwise be a reliable talent pipeline to both fill open roles and make it possible to recruit the best and the brightest from all corners of the globe, is being hamstrung by stipulations that limit mobility for visa holders in a market that demands movement. In a truly market-sensitive visa award…
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