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?

For more COVID-19 content, check out the COVID-19 Jobs Resource Center.

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

      • 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

      • The consulting company I worked for terminated me, cause I spoke about the abuse and exploitation of the H1B visa, like cooked up resumes, collecting money for H1bs , GCs , faking usy resme to apply on EB 1 for their GCs etc.
        Sent complaints to USICS and USICS in NJ guess supports crooked IT companies .Lots of attorneys too help such crooked companies and attack the whistle blowers

    • 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.

    • Nice fantasy you have there, sorry I have to shatter it.

      The reason they “own” the IT market is they weaponize wokeness at the same time as they engage in cartel behavior. There’s no shortage, there’s a glut of cheap Indian labor, and Indian managers creating little insular enclaves of their insular culture, who then deny access to people who aren’t Indian.

      Everyone knows it, and it will eventually come crumbling down like the fiction of Modi’s coronavirus numbers.

  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.)

      • Swift Developer

        Yeah he knows it. We all know there’s not enough software developers in the US that are American born to fill demand. I would like less competition to work against when the jobs come back but there’s no way Americans can fill every one. We fill about 10% of jobs in my experience band. Maybe more Americans in higher experience roles.

  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.

    • Skill up? Get over yourself, you pompous ass. It doesn’t matter how many skills you have when foreign staffing companies with billions of dollars are buying politicians. You are the problem.

  10. Global economy always finds the cheapest resource. Now its Indian IT works but in few years it will be some other cheaper resource. I myself immigrated to this country. I do notice companies want to hire more people on VISA because of lower pay and keep the them leash for really longtime with out any appreciaations. Corporarate America will sell their own mother if they have to. So no hard feelings. its the way the system operates.

  11. You may think H1B workers are useless and unAmericans so why have USCIS issues visas to these? Is it a mistake or miscalculation? Let’s be true on this one, many Americans don’t want to work for the minimum wage and don’t have a higher education. How do they expect to receive superior service? Are they scared of trying economics in the industrial sector? That is the reason our nation solicits these foreigners’ work efforts to revitalize our country. Why not train the homeless? What are they doing everyday on the streets of America? Of course, they money they collect would use it in the consumption of drugs and alcohol. We blame everyone especially those who are not Americans, it’s our fault for not being able to do something on our own people. Wake up! Where’s our government on this issue?

  12. 50% of H1B’s are fake ….They complete MS in college and get a two weeks training and put a 7 years fake resume and then get a job in OPT and Stem OPT and apply for H1B.

    All H4 housewives apply for H1B and get job with fake experience and resumes.

    All OPT EAD tell american white recruiters that they hold H1B and even photocopy fake H1B.

    Anyone who denies this is a liar

  13. My partner and I both work on H1B in higher ed industry. For me to get the H1B, the university has to publish the job on media and interview all Americans. After no one is qualified for the job, then I can be hired under H1B. The truth is that not all H1B jobs are IT or tech related. My partner works at university medical center to do healthcare research. We can earn more money in our home country but we choose here because I believe that our value will be fairly respected, I also used to think that Americans have open minds, they are pure, creative and funny, and people with whatever beliefs are accepted. I used to love America more than Americans since I want to do good to the people that I love. But when I see these comments, I feel very sad. Maybe it’s the time for all the talents to leave America and contribute our skills and knowledges to our home country. So sad… How America can be the best in the world is because it has the talents from all over the world come here. When Trump became the president, he brain washed those Americans who think narrow and blamed immigrants or foreign country but himself. Blame immigrants is easy but solving US’ real problems takes time. He only cares about his own businesses.

  14. Anonymousmous

    Corporations don’t care about our training, they only care about getting the skilled worker for the lowest price I talked to an Indian worker years back and he said he worked 16 to 20 hours a day for the same hourly pay. He didn’t mention how much he was paid an hour, but information I read later on said they were paid $1 an hour for IT jobs, which is what he worked for.

    There are people with degrees, such as myself in IT, but when Corporations can pay someone $1 an hour to work, they obviously wouldn’t pay an American worker minimum wage, since the lower paid worker will save them more money. I read suggestions that we should also take the same rate of pay. We can’t simply put. We work 40 hours a week, sometimes more, but usually 40 hours and if we take $1 an hour before taxes, the pay for 4 weeks of work will be $160. The cost of living here is substantially more than it is in a place like India. It’s doubtful an Indian worker pays around $700 to $100 a month for rent or a mortgage, around $200 to $250 for a power bill, and even more money for items like buying food, clothing, car insurance (it’s required here), health insurance (very expensive), and other expenses. With $1 an hour, no one in America could afford anything with that kind of wage. We’d be in poverty and living in the streets with little to no food.

  15. It seems most misunderstand the H1-B problem.

    There are 4.5 Million college degrees awarded every year in America. So the problem is not that Americans aren’t smart or capable. Rather it is that young people look for opportunities that lead to high incomes with the least resistance. A STEM degree is not a low resistance path. If the normal course of events of supply and demand were allowed to progress, the problem would be quickly solved. Look at Apple Computer.

    Apple employs 12,000 engineers and is a significant employer of H1-Bs. Imagine if each of those 12,000 jobs, even entry level jobs, paid $860,000 per year. That would cost Apple $10.2 Billion per year. But Apple’s annual profit is $60 Billion. So they can afford to pay that and more. But they don’t have too because there are cheaper options.

    If Apple travelled to high schools around the US telling students they will pay each one of them $50,000 per year to prepare for college, $50,000 for each year while in college, pay for their university education, and then provide them a job at $860,000 per year upon graduation, you’d need to build more engineering schools to handle the rush of interest. Can you imagine the number of disadvantaged children in America that would jump at this opportunity if for no other reason than to provide income for their families. Their parents would be after them to study hard every night. There’d be no shortage at all. There would be a glut.

    Why did I chose $860,000? Because that is the average earnings of a player in the NFL. There are only 1700 player positions in the NFL. And the average NFL player’s career is 3 years.

    But there are over 1 Million high school football players practicing nights and weekends, damaging their bodies for one of those positions. How many young men of color would see a quicker and more rapid way out of poverty by spending time preparing for a STEM career? Everyone that is capable would do this.

    Imagine a young man driving to high school in a brand new BMW. Even if he was the geekiest looking guy on campus, he’d have the beautiful girls chasing him. The STEM students would be the “big men and women” on campus.

    The universities are not able to pay money to high school or college athletes. But there is nothing stopping Apple to do this for future engineers. Absolutely nothing.

    Foreign students do exactly the same thing. They see their quick ticket to prosperity as through America. They pay the price because the alternatives are few, and not as lucrative in their home country. Their threshold for undertaking a challenging curriculum is below that of American young people.

    The scenario I outlined above would never happen though, because Apple would build their R&D centers outside of America, in the home countries of current H1-Bs. But that would be a good thing. Why? Because rather than keeping wages down in one country, the income in all H1-B countries would rise. The entire world’s GDP would increase. The world’s wealth would not be concentrated in a few countries. And STEM wages would continue to rise because there would be no place left to go for cheap talent. This is a worldwide win-win. But it won’t happen until free market economics are not limited by a government, in this case via immigration.

    • playerz

      great analysis.. but incorrect! its not like one day u can say…I want to be a mathematician….and voila…it happens. not everyone can be a mathematician….or a doctor or a scientist, or a programmer. these are highly developed skills. the student has a knack for these things. such as…not everyone can play in the nfl….no matter how hard he trains.

      • Swift Developer

        Anyone can certainly become a programmer. Only people who haven’t tried would say otherwise. It is a very simple skill that does not take long to hone. Don’t disagree with me unless you’ve passionately tried for a year and couldn’t pull it off. Do a bootcamp, use the free resources, you can take any path, no college required…it’s never been easier.