COVID-19 May Impact H-1B Workers. But How?

As COVID-19 sweeps across the nation, forcing the closures of everything from schools to restaurants, employees everywhere are being asked to work from home. And that could potentially have a significant impact on technology workers who are on visas, according to reports.

As the Mercury News points out, those holding H-1B visas must list where and how they’re working; as a result, if a company shifts to a remote-work policy, or adjusts its employees’ current hours and tasks, that could lead to lots of additional paperwork. “No one was prepared for this to be coming down the pipeline,” Shev Dalal-Dheini, director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the paper.

However, some attorneys argue that things won’t change very much for H-1B holders if the current pandemic doesn’t radically change the nature of their job. “For an H-1B employee, an amended petition or LCA [labor condition application] should not be required as long as the employee is working in the same capacity and within typical commuting distance of the work location on the original petition and LCA,” William Stock of Klasko Immigration Law Partners recently told Forbes.

If the current bans on some travel persist, that could also have a significant impact. It could become far more difficult for visa holders (and visa applicants) to enter the country to begin with—and also prevent them from leaving easily if their application for new or continuing employment is denied.

It’s worth noting that, over the past few years, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has denied an increasing number of new H-1B visa applications, as well as continuing-employment ones. Critics of the H-1B visa program have applauded this increasing rate of denials, as it undermines what they see as an aggressive, years-long attempt by tech and consulting firms to bring aboard foreign talent at artificially suppressed prices. COVID-19 could introduce additional disruptions on top of the USCIS squeeze, but nobody knows how the whole process will play out. How will the pandemic affect the current pool of H-1B workers?

32 Responses to “COVID-19 May Impact H-1B Workers. But How?”

    • Please tell that to corona virus.
      See the irony; trump started his presidency with muslim travel ban now he has to ban all countries. You are right though just because you are a person doesn’t make you human either. People following rules have nothing to do with anything. Blame the game not the players. Or keep up being smart.

      • there will be a crackdown on ALL employers and employees who are breaching the rules. matter of time. We will drive out those who are abusing the H1B and H4 visas.
        if you or your employees have not abused the law, you have nothing to fear

    • Right. Who made the rules? Politicians for corporates. Who elected politicians? US citizens. For what? For greed and selfish reasons. Comes down to that. Stop blaming people who followed rules ( just imagine 2-3 generations back people who got here followed rules or for better lives? Possibly both)

      • I have a problem when India restricts US businesses from competing in India yet we outsource jobs to them. The biggest insult is when we’re supposed to train our Indian replacement. And by the way, in the US we shower every day, so please do so before coming in the office.

        • Agreed. No country that benefits from sending H1B hourly workers here, has an equivalent program. Where an American can work and not give up their Citizenship. Then bring spouses over. But the point of H1B was to find employment for citizens of their overpopulated and poor country. Should be interesting how this plays out

  1. Anonymous

    The only impact will be a lot more of this filth will be allowed in by this stupid country, even when they are exhibiting full blown symptoms of CV, that’s how pathetic this country has become.

  2. Ace Freedman

    Have you ever worked for a company that utilizes a lot of H1-B visa workers? You will find out what it’s like to be a 2nd class citizen. When the managers and higher ups are Indian, US born IT workers become redundant. Things get even worse when there are job functions outsourced to India. You will be in the dark as information flow is curtailed. Training will occur in India but not for the workers in the US. The H1-B visa killed the IT industry.

  3. Whatever you all want to call it , if it wasn’t for the H1b workers , US IT industry would collapse. They ain’t got enough resources and talent to fulfill the need and demand. It comes down to eventually you not acknowledging the fact that Indians rule the IT market here in US. Not only top companies CEOs are now Indians but also the majority workforce and that’s for a reason. No one is stopping Americans to apply for these.

  4. From everything I have seen, H1Bs can’t work from home, by law. The way I understand the law, if they could do the job without showing up at the office, why did they need to move to the US in the first place?

  5. Why do we care about H1bs when so many Americans are going to go thru lay-offs. They are on Temporary visa. Only reason to get rid of Americans ahead of H1bs is because of greed of American CEOs.

  6. MONISH JOSHY

    Greedy CEO’S are destroying our country. For our nation to prosper, we never had lobbying until early 1980’s so make lobbying illegal by law, Our taxpayer money is funding corp orates to hire OPT/CPT employees instead of US Citizens, just like India tax- US products up to 200%, We need to tax companies 200% the salary of a highest paid US Citizen doing the same job for hiring each foreign non-immigrant employee, so replace H1B lottery with H1B bidding. Also, make education and skilled training free for American Citizens. Stop all temporary work visas, family immigration, make our immigration point based like Canada.

  7. Boston T. Party

    Terminate H-1B immediately!! We’re facing 30%+ unemployment due to coronavirus. This is some low-hanging fruit to create sorely-needed jobs for Americans! And there’s NO shortage of STEM workers in America. Over half of all American STEM workers are working in non-STEM fields. I personally know one person with 2 Ph. D.’s in STEM who’s barely eking out a living waiting tables (and she’s been laid off due to COVID-19, as almost all servers have been.)

  8. If you stop H1b, then you are also blocking scientists and doctors who are working round the clock. H1b is not only about the tech industry. 25% of the doctors are in H1b, and more than 50% of scientists are also H1b. High skilled is not only about tech and IT.

  9. I understand most of the comments are from job seekers and possibly laid off. It is only going to get worse after this. Even companies who were reluctant to do remote are forced to and seeing success during covid. They will make use of it and not pay for facilities and make more use of georgaphic arbitrage. Good luck begging corporates to treat you better. Learn to skill up and compete globally or be ready to perish in your cocoons.