How video game layoffs put immigrant developers at risk of deportation - The Verge
Apr 15, 2021 2 mins, 2 secs
Abalos only had a month until his visa expired.

Not only would he not get the padding of unemployment benefits for anything beyond that date, like his colleagues, but his visa would soon be void, forcing him to leave the country.

I need to find a job, like, now,’” he says.

For some people, like Abalos who grew up in Chile, the US offers more opportunity than their home countries, where development communities can be small.

“It was every day, just desperately looking at job searches,” Abalos says.

“I felt like it was not on my own terms,” she says.

Problems don’t just apply to developers in the midst of their careers, but also to young developers hoping to find a job out of college.

With a strong portfolio and plans to publish his game, he hoped to start a visa process that would help him stay in the country.

At the behest of his lawyers, he was told not to leave the country, but rather start the green card process and try for parole that would allow him to stay in the country past his visa’s expiration.

Their on-paper qualifications and even country of origin vastly impact the kind of visa they might be able to apply for.

Contract work is often inaccessible to developers not able to work in the US.

“It’s an impossible fucking process where we lose out on talent on such a massive scale,” Scheurle says.

“At the end of the day, the company also has to make a request for the visa, and the smaller companies just don’t know how to deal with it,” Abalos says.

“There were points, like, why do I even keep bother trying?” Abalos says.

“I mean, should I just start focusing instead on packing everything up and leaving.” Scheurle says the experience made her doubtful that she’d ever want to return to the States.

“I just don’t ever want to go through that again.

Abalos was able to find a job and stay in the country, while Scheurle took a job in Vancouver

“I still have episodes now and then, and I can’t cope with high pressure environments like I used to,” he says

“I would have been deported a hundred times over without all the advantages I had,” he says, pointing to things like his industry accolades, financial support from his family, and access to an immigration lawyer


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