Google recently laid off 12,000 U.S.-based workers, following a trend of other prominent US Tech companies that recently had massive layoffs.
The engine that drives these companies are the engineers and tech workers, and many of them are foreign nationals who are sponsored by the Googles of the world. Google simply downsizes/adjusts/streamlines (use whatever term you choose) and moves on but what happens to the foreign nationals they employed?
With an internet post and a mass email, suddenly hundreds of foreign nationals were scrambling to figure out where they would work next, but the difference between them and Google’s U.S. citizen employees is that the foreign nationals suddenly had a very short window to find a new sponsor, at most 60 days after their official termination date (which is around March 30).
To make matters worse, since Google was not the first Tech company to massively lay off employees, their engineering degrees from Cal Tech and MIT are suddenly not worth what they were before, because there are very few jobs available and almost no time to line up a new one. In addition, many of those laid off had their green card processes cut off as well. Indian and Chinese nationals have decade-long waits to be able to adjust to permanent residence from their H-1b visa status, and now many are left in the lurch, after taking jobs under the guise of long-term sponsorship and support all the way to finish line.
Several of SMA’s clients were part of these layoffs, one having come to the U.S. under entrepreneurial visas (E-2) to fun his own business, which was then purchased by Google with a job offer and sponsorship for another visa category as part of the package, only to be laid off less than a year later. His business sold, his E-2 visa no longer valid, and now scrambling to find a new employer. SMA will be processing an EB-1 visa based on his recognition in the business field as an entrepreneur, allowing to eventually re-enter as a green card, but for now he must leave the U.S. if he can’t find another O-1 sponsor asap.
Another one came on an F-1 student visa and then was sponsored by Google on an H-1B visa, the principal visa used by US university STEM grads. He has until the end of May to find a sponsor to transfer (“port”) his H-1b to another employer, or he can marry his college sweetheart and be sponsored by her, but that means waiting another four to six months to be eligible to work again and not being able to leave the U.S. for a long period of time.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, ironically, is NOT a U.S. citizen by birth, but rather, just like many of the people he recently laid off, a foreign national born in India, who got a U.S. education in engineering and then…..was sponsored by Google to work and eventually to get his green card…enabling him to become a U.S. citizen…and CEO of Google, who just fired 12,000 people, including people who were on the same path he already took. (Short-term memory inspired by greed?) This painful irony proves one important point: One of the driving forces behind the global success of U.S. tech businesses is the people who are behind the magic curtain, driving innovation, and many of those people are not native born U.S. citizens, including the CEO of Google himself, yet in exacting this massive layoff, Google, and all the other US tech companies who recently did the same, have turned their back on the foreign nationals that form the heart of their ethos, who originate their most important concepts, products and services that change the world. Many of these foreign nationals will be packing their bags and heading home, oftentimes with their spouses and children, and having to start over, in their country of origin or elsewhere, helping to make countries like Germany, which welcomes highly specialized tech specialists with open arms, stronger, while the U.S. falls further and further behind in the global tech movement.
U.S. employers, with the existence of at-will employment, have the power to alter people’s lives by hitting “send” on one email, and when a foreign national receives that email, the consequences are multiplied exponentially. SMA always tries to empower its clients by exploring visa options like the E-2, O-1 and EB-1 when possible, because those visas allow foreign nationals to be self-empowered and control their own destiny, not having to live in fear of the possible pink slip that always lingers, leaving their future in the U.S. in the balance.