As registration for applications for H-1B visas for 2024 opened last week, immigration experts say that Big Tech companies such as Meta, Google and Amazon will apply for lesser visas this year.

Facing an uncertain economy, there has been a spate of layoffs in the tech sector, last year. As experts predict that layoffs are only going to pick up pace in the Silicon Valley – immigration lawyers, IT contractors and developers tell businessline that Big Tech are likely to reduce the number of H-1B applications that they file for calendar year 24. 

The Silicon Valley has been plagued with rising layoffs amongst large tech company, that hired extensively during the Covid boom. Now large tech companies are cutting down their ranks to save costs. 

Holy grail to the US

For Indian techies, H1B is the holy grail of visas to get in the States. Countless of Indian techies immigrate to the United States on either an F-1 or an L-1 visa with the hopes to subsequently get an H-1B to work more freely in the States. 

An F-1 visa is a student visa, that an international student can get in the States after pursuing a masters or undergraduate degree in the US. For techies, the student visa lasts for three years, which allows them to work in the US.

Senior techies can work in American tech companies with an L-1 visa, this visa allows a US company to transfer a key employee from one of its offices in another country to the United States. Techies vie to convert their F-1 or L-1 visa to an H-1B, since this three- to six-year visa allows employees to switch between companies in the US.

In case an H-1B visa holder is laid off, they can look for another job to stay the United States; an L-1 visa holder will be instantly transferred back to their country. For techies, an H-1B grants the much-needed stability in order to work in the States. 

The US government opens H-1B applications every year for 14 days. The registration for new H-1B visas for 2024 opened on Friday. Experts note that Big Tech is likely going to the reduce the number of H-1B application in this application round. 

Lottery for small employers

Poorvi Chothani, Founder and Partner at LawQuest, a boutique law firm that deals with immigration cases said, “The spate of tech layoffs will impact the composition of the companies that apply for H-1B visas in the current registration period. I also think that employers will register more employees for level 1 and level 2  positions.”

Chothani added, “It appears that senior staff were the majority of the recent layoffs by Big Tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Meta. These companies are likely to use fewer H-1B workers than in the past. This will give smaller employers a better chance at the lottery.”

A small IT contractor, which supplies manpower to tech companies in the States, also told businessline that Big Tech companies are reducing the number of H-1B applications they will file, while small to mid-sized IT companies will be increasing their applications for H-1Bs.