Tracking Workplace Immigration Issues

H-1B visa program reform and immigration reform are in the books for the new administration.

It’s widely recognized that the federal government’s H-1B visa program needs a change. The Trump administration’s executive order draft aims at overhauling work-visa programs and affecting hiring practices, which could impact how tech companies recruit tens of thousands of employees. Currently, it allows them to bring in high-skill workers when they can’t find qualified local workers, and the U.S. permits 85,000 H-1B visas annually for highly technical positions in STEM fields.

Allegations have sparked controversy that companies are abusing the program to bring in cheaper workers for jobs that otherwise might go to Americans. Legislation plans to prohibit companies who are heavy users of the visa program.

Those supporting the changes believe more jobs will be brought back to local workers, but those opposing argue it will burden employers and make it harder for them to access skilled talent, especially highly educated students from foreign universities — the top recipients of the H-1B visas work in the technology departments of large corporations such as Microsoft Corp., Inc. and Apple Inc., highly sought-after positions. Workforce is keeping a running list of important developments in immigration and H-1B Visas.


Feb. 8: Leon Rodriguez, former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security, is joining Seyfarth Shaw’s labor and employment department in Washington, D.C.

Feb. 8: More than one-third of organizations have been impacted by the travel ban, according to new research by the Institute for Corporate Productivity. A pulse survey of 261 companies revealed 24 percent expect it will have a negative impact on productivity this year (only 3 percent say it will have a positive impact).

Feb. 6: The tech industry braced for another executive order that could hit business hard. Nearly 100 tech companies support a high-profile legal battle opposing Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban. The brief says, “Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list … and employ millions of Americans.” Among the tech companies that signed are Google, Airbnb, Microsoft, Intel, Netflix, Snap, Facebook and Uber.

Feb. 5: The future of Indian tech firms and billion-dollar ideas could be in trouble. At least nine private startups with valuations of $1 billion or higher have a founder of Indian origin. North America is the biggest export market for the country’s $150-billion IT industry, and the possibility of overhauling all American work-visa programs could impact India greatly.

Feb. 1: Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, reintroduced a bill that will eliminate the H-1B visa lottery system. Replacing it would be a preference system awarding priority to foreign students who hold advanced degrees from the U.S. over importing more foreign workers. They will be offered the highest wage for jobs to which they apply.

Jan. 28: A federal court in New York issued a temporary injunction against the federal government’s implementation of portions of the order. The government can’t remove affected individuals from the U.S. just on the application of the order. Removal applies to individuals being sent out of the United States after requesting entry. The order violates the Constitution’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.

Jan. 27: President Donald Trump signed an executive order that “suspends entry” of both “immigrant and nonimmigrant” individuals from the seven countries currently subject to visa waiver restrictions: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This 120-day hold is an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. Citizens from the seven Muslim countries are barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Jan. 4: U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) introduced legislation backed by multiple Democrats and Republicans that would change the requirements for the H-1B visa program. New standards will turn the four-tier wage system into a three-tier system and make it difficult for employers to access entry-level workers and exploit the program. Employers will pay foreign national workers more than similarly situated U.S. workers.

Mia Mancini is a Workforce intern. Comment below or email

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Author: <div class="author_list_wrapper"><ul class="author_list"><li class="author_link"><a href="/bios/mia-mancini">Mia Mancini</a></li></ul><div>