Jacob Sapochnick - Quoted in the Silicon Valley's Mercury News About Layoffs and Lost Wages for H-1B Visa Holders

Amid the increasing layoffs hitting technology companies across the country, prominent papers are covering the job market crisis.

Last week I was interviewed by Pete Carey, senior reporter at the Mercury News. The leading publication in Silicon Valley.

For the two out-of-work engineers, it's a race against time. They've lost their Silicon Valley jobs and need to quickly find others at a time when companies everywhere are tightening their belts.

Both are Indians whose advanced degrees were earned at American universities. And both are facing the inflexible rules of their H-1B work visas.

Technically, as soon as they lost their jobs, they were required to leave the country. In reality, they can probably wing it for a week or two, but not much longer.

This stark dilemma is being repeated with increasing frequency across Silicon Valley, according to immigration specialists, as companies downsize to weather a punishing downturn. It's a small number compared with the layoffs of H-1B visa holders during the dot-com crash. But the downturn has sent a wave of concern through the community of immigrant workers who hold the visa, which companies use to hire skilled noncitizens.

Prasad, 28, comes from a business family in Manipur and is the only one of his siblings with a computer science degree. A graduate of the Indian School of Mines, he came here in 2004 for advanced study, first at Stanford and then at MIT, where he earned a master's degree in electrical engineering.

He landed a job with a Silicon Valley startup, but the downturn claimed his position in December. The company kept him on for two months so he could look for a new one. Now time is running out.

"I just need to find a new job" soon, he said recently. "There's a distinct possibility that I will have to leave. The downturn has come, companies have frozen hiring, I'm in the wrong company and I got laid off."

"There's a lot of panic everywhere," said the immigration lawyer representing Prasad, Jacob Sapochnick of San Diego. "Everybody's worried."

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