A tech worker says that after being laid off, she is at risk of being deported. She has been in the U.S. for 12 years on an H1-B visa.
In a TikTok posted on Aug. 29, Poppy Shen says that she was laid off from her tech job and now has 60 days to find a new job that will sponsor her through her visa.
The H1-B visa program allows employers to hire nonimmigrant foreign nationals by sponsoring their visa, enabling the foreign individual to legally live and work in the U.S.
Shen says has lived in the U.S. for 12 years: She attended high school and college in the country, and her “entire life is here.” Though she has a job offer from another company, Shen says her potential employer is working to figure out if they can sponsor her visa. She is also working with an immigration attorney.
“It’s basically impossible to find a job that would sponsor me in my industry right now with this job market,” Shen says. “The majority of time I spent [in the U.S.], I lived with a severe anxiety around the uncertainty of my immigration status.”
Large tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and smaller shops like Spotify, GrubHub, and Shopify all experienced layoffs this year. While Shen considers herself a casualty of “big tech layoffs,” she actually works in journalism.
Shen goes on to say that her life has depended and continues to depend on her visa and that she hasn’t left the country in three years in order to not jeopardize her status. The stress of working hard to prove to her employers that she is worth sponsoring has gotten to Shen, as well.
“I’m just really, really exhausted because I felt like I always had to work my butt off to prove that I’m as good as other people,” Shen says. “And that I deserve a place here.”
On Thursday, Shen’s video had over 450,000 views on TikTok.
@popshen02 #grwm #deported #h1bvisa #layoff #techlayoffs #visastruggle #visa #immigrants #internationalstudents #lifeabroad ♬ original sound – poppyseeds
In follow-up TikToks, Shen explains that she came to the U.S. at 15 to attend high school on an F-1 student visa through her school, transitioned to another F-1 visa for college, worked on an O-1 visa, and finally obtained an H1-B visa, which she had been on for two years until she was laid off.
Her former employer also helped her start her green card process after working with them for four years—but after losing her job, she is no longer in the running for a green card.
“It’s extremely hard to get a green card here,” Shen says in a TikTok. “It takes forever.”
While the fastest way to get a green card is by marrying a U.S. citizen, Shen says that she is unable to do that because her boyfriend is also on a visa in the U.S. from Germany—though a co-worker of hers offered to marry her to help her get citizenship.
“I said no,” Shen says. “Now I’m really regretting it.”