Microsoft Layoffs Adds More Fuel to H-1B Visa Fire

September 1, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader

Bill Gates in India

Layoff announcements by IT vendors came fast and furious over the past two weeks. But it was Microsoft Corp.’s that drew the attention of a U.S. senator, who said it was “imperative” that the company give job priority to U.S. citizens over foreigners with H-1B visas.

Does Microsoft have a moral obligation to protect American workers?

“Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect ... American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote in a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Jan. 22.

Grassley, a vocal critic of the H-1B program, could have sent the letter to any of the vendors laying off employees -- or to corporations with H-1B workers on their IT staffs. He likely singled out Microsoft because its chairman, Bill Gates , has called for an increase in the annual cap on visas during congressional hearings.

Microsoft, which plans to cut up to 5,000 employees over the next 18 months, said last week that a “significant number” of the first 1,400 people being let go are foreign workers who are in the U.S. on visas

The software vendor wouldn’t be more specific, though. And despite Grassley’s demands, there are no federal laws that require companies to lay off H-1B holders before U.S. workers.

“In fact, the law is very well designed to say that you have to treat H-1Bs the same as U.S. citizens in all regards,” said David Kussin, an immigration attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in New York.

Even Grassley appeared to acknowledge that point in his letter to Ballmer, when he wrote about Microsoft’s “moral obligation.” He didn’t describe protecting U.S. workers as a legal requirement.

Microsoft is one of the leading H-1B employers

Microsoft won’t disclose the number of H-1B workers on its payroll, and it’s hard to get a complete picture of any company’s visa use from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But the software vendor is considered to be one of the leading H-1B employers. For instance, according to USCIS data, Microsoft received approval for a total of nearly 2,300 visas for the federal government’s 2006 and 2007 fiscal years.

In the statement that Microsoft released in response to Grassley’s letter, the company noted that there is a “human impact” for all workers who are laid off, including H-1B holders.

“For many of the employees here on a visa, being laid off means that they have to leave the country on very short notice, in many cases uprooting families and children,” Microsoft said.

Indeed, visa holders whose jobs are eliminated face some difficult decisions. Kussin said that as soon as H-1B workers lose their jobs, they technically “are no longer eligible to be in the United States.”

Related Articles

More than 40,000 US H-1B Visas still available
USCIS to Accept H-1B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2011 Beginning April 1, 2010
Microsoft Layoffs Adds More Fuel to H-1B Visa Fire
Obtain a three year residence permit under the Danish Green Card scheme.
US H-1B Visas still available due to the economic downturn.

Enter the Green Card Lottery. 55,000 Green Card’s Must Go Each Year. Let us help you reach your dream of becoming an American resident today!

Actual green card
DV2012 diversity visa lottery
dv2011 green card diversity lottery

Return to USA Diversity Lottery's immigration news page to read more immigration news.

Take the Green Card Test

USA Diversity Green Card Test

Take the free test to see if you qualify. If you do, apply for the USA Diversity Visa Green Card Lottery here on the Official USA Diversity Lottery site and your dreams may soon come true. 55,000 diversity immigrant visas (Green Cards) available in the lottery every year. Take the free test NOW!

Immigration News

September 1, 2009

Microsoft Layoffs Adds More Fuel to H-1B Visa Fire

August 18, 2009

Healthcare reform could be blocked by Illegal immigrant debate

August 17, 2009

Bring Cash and we will give you a Green Card

August 11, 2009

President Obama: No immigration reform until 2010

August 7, 2009

US Worker Green Card Petitions Down Sharply

August 5, 2009

The Pass ID Act promises to return the nation to pre-Sept. 11 dangers.

August 3, 2009

President Obama’s Aunt Resurfaces in Public Housing

July 31, 2009

Gates criticizes U.S. immigration policies

July 29, 2009

US Goverment Rejects Call for Immigration Detention Rules

July 27, 2009

U.S. Citizenship Through Military Service

July 22, 2009

No one wants to solve Illegal immigration

July 21, 2009

U.S. Citizenship Through Military Service

July 14, 2009

Democrats play word games on immigration

July 6, 2009

White House: scale back immigration expectations

July 5, 2009

McCain to President Obama: Do not bow to labor unions on immigration

June 23, 2009

Obama administration gut immigration enforcement

June 19, 2009

Obtain a three year residence permit under the Danish Green Card scheme

June 15, 2009

US H-1B Visas still available due to the economic downturn

May 29, 2009

EUís version of the US Green Card system in the offing

May 26, 2009

Immigration reform could emerge again in the fall

March 18, 2009

Join the army and become a US citizen in 6 months

March 1, 2009

Obtain a U.S. Green Card without any form of sponsorship