Mahi B., who works in the technology sector in Texas, recently received some very upsetting news during these times of uncertainty caused by the spreading coronavirus in the United States. With an ongoing national emergency, coupled with a crippling economy, options are limited at the moment for many like Mahi, who are in the United States on a work-based visa. That’s because the information technology field, where a majority of these visa holders are employed, has not been affected by the countrywide lockdown, which has badly impacted sectors such as transportation and hospitality. Continuing his tirade, Carlson said, “The big winners in this scheme are companies like Apple, Google and IBM, which take in H-1B workers every year. “An employer loses one big client, a project is not alive; and suddenly someone is jobless,” said Aparna Dave, an immigration lawyer in Gaitherburg, MD, explaining the precarious position of H-1B workers in the consulting industry. While legal experts advise that, given the circumstances, the best bet would be to ask one’s current employer if it can accommodate one in any other project, for those who are losing their jobs the going is really tough. “I have been hearing situations where people are panicking to find out how they can extend the stay beyond the grace period,” said Amit Patel from Colorado. Some who have lost their jobs or are apprehensive of losing them are looking at applying for a B-1/B-2 visitor visa in order to stay in the country legally. “I was on STEM OPT (optional practical training) and recently was asked to resume work only after the crisis starts getting better,” she said. For instance, the hospitality giant Marriot furloughed 3,200 employees — out of a work force of 4,000 — in its Bethesda, MD, corporate office.
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