Mumbai: Luck smiled on 36-year-old software engineer Anjali and her husband, who were to leave the country in two days. Anjali, who was among the thousands of Indians struggling to land a job after the layoffs in the US, has been living in Lowell, Massachusetts. The software engineer landed a better-paying job just two days before her H1B visa grace period was to expire.
“I got the approval yesterday. If nothing had happened by today, we would have had to leave tomorrow,” she said.
But Anjali's husband had to go back
Unfortunately, Anjali's husband, a computer industry worker who was also protected by her visa, had to return to India. This is because the paperwork to allow him to stay would take a lot of time and his grace period for staying in the US would be over by then.
Anjali, name changed, was not the only one to get a job just before the 60-day deadline. Demand for techies is robust despite layoffs hitting the tech sector hard, according to two others who asked not to be named.
Big tech companies must pay H-1B visa workers more than their previous wage, according to US law, said experts.
Experienced workers in Massachusetts can expect an annual pay of $182,000, according to news portals.
Laid-off workers with visas are in high demand
The good news is that laid-off workers with visas are in high demand. This led to Anjali getting two offers, one from a global manufacturing firm and another from a major financial services firm.
The problem, however, is the paperwork. For a new employer, the procedure to submit an application to the Labor Department and the USCIS takes weeks.
Kiran, a masters in computer engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a masters in computer science from Georgia Tech, was laid off by a biotech firm two days before Christmas.
The 28-year-old lived in Framingham with his Chinese wife, a university researcher on H-1B visa. “I found a new job in 45-50 days. But I had to leave the US because of the 60-day cutoff,” he said.
Kiran's employer paid $2,500 for expedited processing, but failed to beat the visa deadline. So he left his wife behind and flew home but is expected to return to the US soon a senior machine-learning engineer in Cambridge.
Kiran could have stayed on the spouse's visa, but without a job. Overstay invites harsh penalties.
However, after all the stress and sleepless nights, there was good news for Kiran who was drawing $115,000 as his new package is $240,000 a year.
For 38-year-old Maryam, landing a job was a cakewalk. Maryam, an MBA from Northwestern University, lived in Newton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts and worked at a real estate tech firm. However, was unhappy and applied for several jobs.
By the time Maryam was laid off in January, she had lined up several interviews and quickly got an offer. “I would have quit if I had not been laid off,” she said. Maryam accepted the same post, that of strategy and operations manager, but at an annual pay package of $145,000, which is higher than the previous $130,000.
Maryam's physician husband also has an H-1B and is on the wait list for a “green card” to live in the US permanently. However, the wait list is decades long.
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