Twitter Employees on Visas Can't Just Quit• https://www.vice.com, By Chloe Xiang
On Wednesday, Elon Musk gave Twitter employees just under 36 hours to decide if they would be leaving or committing to stay and build "a breakthrough Twitter 2.0." This ultimatum came after more than 3,000 employees were laid off a week into Musk's leadership. While more than a thousand employees are estimated to have quit, according to the New York Times, Twitter employees who rely on the company for work visas are left grappling with a Catch-22: either they choose to buckle up and embrace Twitter's unsure future, or give up their jobs and leave the United States.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, around 300 employees at Twitter are working under the H-1B visa. The H-1B program allows foreign workers who are highly skilled in areas such as architecture, engineering, and economics to work in the United States. Many large tech companies in addition to Twitter, such as Amazon and Meta, employ H-1B workers. The recent tech layoffs have put H-1B workers in precarious positions, as they only have 60 days after losing employment or until their visa expires, whichever comes sooner, to find a new employer to sponsor their visa.
"I really feel bad for the people who are aghast at the way Musk has been managing the company but perhaps feel unable to raise their concerns, because they've seen what has happened when people do that before—they get unceremoniously fired," David Gray Widder, a PhD. student in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, spoke to more than a hundred software engineers about the ethical concerns they face at work for a paper he is currently trying to publish. "Or feel like if they did raise their concerns, they might be let go and they have reasons why they can't afford to have that happen. They have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, dependents with health care needs that they need to keep their insurance or a visa status to protect them. These are all examples of ways in which software engineers, despite being powerful in the scheme of work, generally still might be in a difficult situation."