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Hundreds of Twitter employees on H-1B visas fear being deported if Elon Musk fires them

Elon Musk is laying off thousands of Twitter workers.
Elon Musk is laying off thousands of Twitter workers.Dave Smith/Business Insider
  • Hundreds of Twitter employees on special visas could be deported after Elon Musk's job cuts.

  • He cut thousands of jobs with the mass layoffs equating to as much as half of the company workforce.

  • A Forbes report suggests nearly 700 Twitter employees were on H-1B employment-tied visas.

Elon Musk's cost-cutting plans may have left hundreds of Twitter employees on high-skill work visas on a countdown to deportation.

At least 250 Twitter workers appear to be employed on H-1B visas, according to official records, and now face an uncertain future.

And according to analysis of US Citizenship and Immigration Services data by the National Foundation for American Policy, that number could be as high as 670, or 8% of the company pre-cuts, Forbes reported.

Musk began culling the social-media giant's workforce on Thursday night, Insider reported, with access to work applications like Slack suddenly cut off for many now-former employees.

About half of Twitter's workforce, or about 3,700 people, are expected to have lost their jobs, per Insider. But for some of these workers, the consequences could be even more severe.

According to data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Twitter has given "initial approval" to 168 H-1B visas since 2020. The company has received approval for 673 such visas since 2009.

Companies give H-1B visas to people from other countries with "highly specialized knowledge" and a relevant bachelor's degree, per USCIS. They are intended to last for three years, but can go up to six.

If sponsored employment is lost, a migrant has 60 days to find a new job before facing deportation. The US allows 65,000 successful applications a year. Workers on H-1B visas are able to stay in the US if they can find new employment, according to "portability" rules.

Records suggest Immigration Services granted "continuing approval" for 242 visas earlier this year, suggesting hundreds of employment-conditional migrants were working at Twitter before Musk's layoffs.

Musk asked vice presidents to compile lists of employees deemed least worthy of staying as he endeavors to radically alter the way Twitter works. It is unclear what departments visa-tied Twitter employees work for, or how susceptible their positions are to layoffs.

According to immigration law, Musk must pay the "reasonable costs" of transportation of migrant workers whose employment has been terminated before the end of their authorized stays.

According to multiple reports, Musk himself was able to stay in the United States after finishing his college degree thanks to the H-1B visa. He previously reprimanded Donald Trump in 2017 for Trump's decision to suspend the special work visas. 

Musk also faces a lawsuit from former employees for not giving adequate notice over mass layoffs, which may provide some from of respite for vulnerable workers. The billionaire has since tweeted that the company offered everyone who got laid off three months' worth of severance, though some staff have disputed his claim.

Twitter user @maybettl, who said they were laid off from the company this week, tweeted that some staff were offering to be laid off to save their colleagues on work visas. Insider wasn't able to verify this information.

Twitter didn't respond to Insider's request for comment on the number of employees on special work visas, or the number of those employees it had laid off.

Read the original article on Business Insider