meta: Meta offers immigration support to H-1B visa holders impacted by its lay-offs

As Facebook owner Meta decided to lay off more than 11,000 of its staff in “the most difficult changes made in Meta’s history”, employees on work visas such as H-1Bs now face uncertainty over their immigration status.

Acknowledging this issue, Mark Zuckerberg said in the letter, “this is especially difficult if you’re here on a visa” and offered support to those impacted.

The letter reads, “I know this is especially difficult if you’re here on a visa. There’s a notice period before termination and some visa grace periods, which means everyone will have time to make plans and work through their immigration status. We have dedicated immigration specialists to help guide you based on what you and your family need.”

It should be noted that US-based technology firms hire a large number of H-1B workers, the majority of whom come from countries like India.

The H- 1B visa, a non-immigrant visa, allows US enterprises to employ foreign workers in occupations that requires specialized knowledge. Technology firms depend on it to hire many employees each year from countries like India and China.

The H-1B visa is initially valid for three years and can be extended by another three years.

The visa holders are then required to leave the country unless their employee sponsors them for permanent residency, known as the Green Card.

In case H-1B visa holders lose their jobs, they only have a “grace period” of 60 days to find an employee who is willing to sponsor their H-1B, failing which they will be required to leave the US.

Other support measures announced by Meta include severance pay for 16 weeks of base pay plus two additional weeks for every year of service, with no cap; coverage of healthcare cost for people and their families for six months and three months of career support with an external vendor, including early access to unpublished job leads.

Zuckerberg said outside the US, support will be similar, and the company will follow up soon with separate processes that take into account local employment laws.

He said the cuts represented 13 percent of the social media titan’s workforce and would affect its research lab focusing on the metaverse as well as its apps, which include Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp.

The tech industry is facing a serious slump and many tech firms have announced mass layoffs — Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk fired half its staff last week.

Facebook and Google, which are ad-supported platforms, are suffering with advertisers looking to cut costs as they struggle with inflation and rising interest rates.

Zuckerberg told staff he had expected the boost in e-commerce and online activity during the Covid pandemic to continue, but added: “I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

With inputs from PTI

ET Online


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