Recently granted Tesla employee visa faces unexpected layoff shortly after

Former Tesla Engineer Explores Production Hurdles and Work Visa Struggles for International Employees

A month ago, Raj came back from India after receiving the important H1B work visa stamp on his passport at the U.S. consulate in Mumbai. This visa enables him and 85,000 other skilled foreign workers in STEM fields to come to the U.S. to work annually. However, following Tesla’s recent decision to reduce its global workforce by 20%, Raj found himself without a job, giving him only 60 days to secure a new position or depart the country.

In a conversation with InsideEVs, Raj—whose connection to Tesla was confirmed, but is being referred to by a pseudonym for anonymity—discussed various subjects. These included the specific details of the job cuts, their impact on the production lines at a Gigafactory, and the challenges that unemployment poses for foreign employees.

As technology companies adopt artificial intelligence and automation to navigate industry challenges, there is a growing trend of mass layoffs. Around 80,000 employees have been let go in 2024, as reported by the Layoffs.fyi website. This number is projected to increase as the wave of Tesla layoffs extends into this week. CEO Elon Musk has committed to implementing aggressive staff cuts as the company shifts its focus towards robotaxis and AI technologies.

“I was sitting at my desk one April morning when my email suddenly stopped working, and I was completely caught off guard,” Raj recalled. He was a supervisor at one of the production teams at Tesla.

“I heard there was an issue with Microsoft,” he said of the email delays. “But then many of us got an email saying that the people unable to log in that day had been laid off. A bunch of people in my department and in my shift were dismissed.”

This group consisted of individuals from the local community as well as multiple workers from different countries, just like him.

“That was the end of it,” he remarked. Having been employed at Tesla for close to six years, he found himself unable to access his account and barred from re-entering the factory. This job had been his initial position after finishing graduate school, and he had established a whole new life revolving around it, which was now abruptly disrupted.

A group of workers, including Raj, announced on social media that Tesla had abruptly ended their employment. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act usually signals prior rounds of job cuts at Tesla, as it mandates that companies of a specific size must give notice in advance of significant layoffs. It remains uncertain if any WARN Act notifications were issued during the latest series of job terminations. However, some Tesla employees informed InsideEVs that they would continue to receive pay for an extra two months.

Despite a notable decrease in Tesla’s sales in the first quarter, Raj mentioned that the remaining production staff would be overwhelmed.

“There is an overwhelming amount of work pressure on the remaining staff responsible for production. The production teams are feeling the impact, especially those without supervisors following the recent layoffs, causing confusion and concern among them.”

The suddenness of these job cuts has left employees in various departments puzzled and has caused ripples throughout the electric vehicle sector.

On occasion, Raj would put in extra hours because his department was lacking in staff. “We simply didn’t have an adequate number of employees. There were times when I worked six days a week to keep up with production,” he mentioned. It was a demanding and fast-moving work setting, he further commented.

After being let go, it’s not as simple for him to secure a new job compared to American citizens. “Smaller companies typically don’t provide sponsorship for production manager positions. Therefore, these job cuts impact individuals in similar situations,” he explained.

In the past, American businesses have depended on talented individuals from China and India to address shortages in the technology industry. Research indicates that drawing in a diverse group of skilled workers not only assists these individuals in securing valuable jobs but also contributes significantly to the U.S. economy’s growth. However, layoffs frequently affect them more severely. H1B visa holders are granted a two-month “grace period.” If they are unable to secure new employment during this timeframe, they must depart the country. Failing to do so puts them at risk of deportation and a permanent ban from reentering the United States.

Raj expresses deep concern about this situation. After being employed at Tesla for over five years and living in the United States for seven years, his fate depends on his accomplishments within a tight 60-day window after his employment ends. He is single but responsible for supporting his entire family, which includes four sisters.

Nonetheless, he remains optimistic. “It’s a chance to explore new opportunities and not dwell on the job cuts,” he remarked.

If you have been affected by the recent job cuts at Tesla and would like to share your story, please reach out. We are willing to talk to you confidentially and privately.

For reaching out to the writer, please contact: suvrat.kothari@insideevs.com

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