The news is that another IT giant, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta (once Facebook), has laid off large numbers of H-1B workers, just as Elon Musk’s Twitter did a little earlier — both layoffs raising questions as to the once-stated “need” for such foreign workers.
The twist on the news is that Zuckerberg, a native-born U.S. citizen, handled the process with much more grace than Musk, a one-time H-1B himself.
As is often the case with foreign worker stories, the coverage in India was more thorough than in the U.S. media.
The two layoffs involved both U.S. and foreign workers, with the exact mix of those two work forces unknown in both cases. Musk, who just bought Twitter for $54 billion, axed half its staff, or about 3,700 people; Facebook cut back 13 percent of its 11,000 employees, or about 1,400 of them. Hundreds of H-1B workers must have been involved in each case.
In the case of Twitter, the layoffs were arranged so quickly that some of them have been revoked, and the once-former workers have been reinstated.
The Meta layoffs were handled with more care than those at Twitter. In the first place, 13 percent of 11,000 is a much smaller operation, and probably more targeted than Musk’s 50 percent reduction. Secondly, Zuckerberg’s statement that there was no good way to handle a layoff showed, or sought to show, a more humane approach to the move. He spoke of the talents that the departing workers had brought to Meta.
Finally, Meta has established an outplacement operation to seek to find other jobs for the laid-off workers.
It will be interesting to see what DHS does to the laid-off H-1Bs, who have 60 days to find another job or face deportation. Quick deportations of those failing to get another employer strike me as unlikely in this administration. Will the government restore H-1B status to workers who, for example, find a job 80 days after losing their jobs with Meta or Twitter, even though they had been out of status for 20 days?
Even more interesting will be what happens to the requests — if any — from these two companies in the next round of H-1B filings in the spring.