In a concerning trend, several major tech companies are reportedly hiring foreign workers at low wages shortly after announcing significant layoffs. Despite cutting a substantial portion of their workforce, companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google are said to be filling technical positions with low-wage foreign workers, according to recent reports.
The US Labor Department data, as cited by journalist Lee Fang, reveals that Google has hired dozens of foreign workers, many of whom hold H1-B visas, to fill specialized technical roles in the United States. The H1-B visa is typically reserved for professional engineers with a college degree or equivalent qualifications and experience.
Among the positions for which Google sought visa applications were software engineers, analytics consultants, and user experience researchers. Even Weimo, a Google subsidiary specializing in self-driving cars, was seeking visa applications for engineering positions with an early start date in August.
Labor Department data further shows that numerous H1-B visa applications were filed by other tech giants, including Meta, Amazon, Zoom, Salesforce, and Microsoft, all of which recently underwent substantial layoffs. This revelation underscores the irony that many H1-B visa holders, including those from India, have been directly affected by these layoffs, losing their right to stay in the United States. Meanwhile, the same companies are bringing in new H1-B applicants to fill vacant positions.
The surge in visa applications within the tech industry for the second consecutive year has raised concerns about potential manipulation of the system for unfair advantages, according to officials. Some tech companies are even hiring lobbyists to exert pressure on lawmakers and the Biden administration to increase the number of H1-B visas issued.
The scale of the layoffs in the US tech industry has been significant. Meta laid off 21,000 employees within a few months as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “year of efficiency” initiative. Google cut 12,000 jobs in January, while Amazon underwent two rounds of layoffs resulting in approximately 27,000 job losses. In January, Microsoft announced worldwide job cuts affecting nearly 5% or 10,000 employees. CEO Satya Nadella, however, emphasized that the company would continue hiring in key strategic areas despite the layoffs.
The practice of hiring low-wage foreign workers shortly after mass layoffs raises ethical questions and draws attention to the potential exploitation of the visa system. It remains to be seen how this trend will impact the US workforce, immigration policies, and the ongoing debate surrounding foreign labor in the tech industry.