October 02, 2020
In a case joined by HR Policy as a friend of the court, a California federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to a coalition of business associations and major tech companies, halting a work visa ban implemented by the Trump administration in June 2020.
The Coalition convinced the court that the restrictions would prevent companies from transferring executives between abroad and U.S. offices, as well as from recruiting and hiring foreign talent. Our brief also argued that the H-1B, H-2B and L-1 visa programs suspended by the order would “have a well-established and documented track record of benefiting the economy.”
The work visa ban temporarily blocked companies from bringing in new hires from abroad on visas including the H-1B specialty occupation visa, the L visa for internal transfers, H-2B guest-worker visas and J-1 cultural exchange visas. The Trump administration justified the visa ban as a move to free up jobs for U.S. workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White found that Trump did not have authority to issue the visa ban, saying that the president does not have “unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners.” White found that “such unrestricted authority would be contrary to Congress’ explicit delegation of powers in foreign affairs and national security.”
Outlook: The halt on the visa ban is only temporary, and is limited to only the business associations who challenged the ban—the injunction does not block the visa ban nationwide. It is nevertheless a significant—if perhaps only temporary—setback for the Trump administration and its hard line on immigration, and is unlikely to be the last legal challenge to work visa bans.