January of 2009 is brutal for working Americans. A bunch of big-name companies announced new massive layoffs. Actually some are going through maybe their Nth round of workforce reduction already. Take a look at this table below (source: MSN/WSJ):
|Company||Announcement date||Jobs cut||% of work force|
|PNC Financial Services||2/3/2009||5,800||10|
|Hertz Global Holdings||1/16/2009||4,000||13|
Employers rarely break up the numbers in terms of how many foreign workers will lose their jobs, but it is not surprising if a significant number of H-1B employees are affected. The trouble is, laid-off foreign workers have to deal with more issues than just financial hardship.
“For many of the employees here on a visa, being laid off means that they have to leave the country on very short notice, in many cases uprooting families and children,” – Microsoft Statement
If you are a foreign worker, it is a good idea to plan ahead and know all your options even if there is no immediate danger of being laid off. Maintaining legal status is critical in situations like this, so it helps if you are familiar with change of status (to H4, for example), AC21 (if you have a pending I-485), EAD, unemployment benefits, etc.