Thousands of Charlotte workers worried about possible immigration changes

CHARLOTTE — Thousands of workers in the Charlotte region worry they could lose their jobs soon.

"Definitely very tense, not good days," said one of the employees who doesn't want to name himself or his employer because his job is on the line.

The business analyst said he received a notice from the government recently saying his work visa might be revoked.

"It'll be devastating to me. It'll be devastating to me, my family, more importantly for my daughter," he said.

His wife is employed with a H-1B work visa for highly-skilled foreign workers. That allows him to work on a H4 visa which helps spouses of H-1B workers get jobs.

While his wife's visa is safe, his is in jeopardy because the federal government is now thinking about scrapping H4 visas.

Immigration attorney Benjamin Snyder says Charlotte's economy will really feel the impact if foreign workers are forced to leave.

"Each one of these H1-B visa holders are working in a relatively high-paying, high-skilled occupation. They own cars. They own houses," Snyder explained.

He says the immigration uncertainty is already having an impact.

Snyder says he is being contacted by foreign workers who are asking for help finding an immigration attorney in Canada because they think their families can find more stability there.

Channel 9 dug through federal data and discovered there were 13,898 H-1B visas certified for workers in Charlotte in 2016 alone. The average salary offer was $80,000.

Large companies, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Lowes often add foreign workers into their workforces because there are not enough skilled workers here.

While many corporations aren't discussing the possible changes in legislation, Lowes tells Channel 9 they value the contributions from their diverse workforce.

Their full statement said, "As an international company with more than 290,000 employees, we value the many contributions of our diverse workforce. We have a very small number of employees in the U.S. with H-1B visas and evaluate sponsorship on a case-by-case basis."

Visa holders tell Channel 9 if they're forced to leave Charlotte, the jobs could follow them.

"We are today living in an economy or modern world where geography does not limit the work that we do," said the father who did not want to be identified.

The Department of Homeland Security is still reviewing changes. Channel 9 will let you know when they make a decision.

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