Two recently unemployed Chinese nationals weigh their options in a cramped Park Falls motel room, not far from where they worked in a former paper mill now being used to mine cryptocurrency.

One of them continues to nurse a stitched-up laceration across his left wrist from an on-the-job injury after he tripped while carrying a computer in August, a few months before he was let go.

Speaking in their native Mandarin, Aaron and Justin — as they refer to themselves in English — came to the United States on visas that allowed them to visit temporarily for “business activities” but not to take jobs in America. The two said they thought they had a long-term future helping a global company, SOS Limited, establish a cryptocurrency mining operation in North America, one of just two known facilities in Wisconsin.