HR Policy: Work Visas Vital to Economic Recovery

June 26, 2020

The Association urged President Trump to consider the positive economic impact of nonimmigrant work visas as the Trump administration suspended many such visas through the end of 2020.  HR Policy will continue to work to narrow the ban, especially protecting H-1B visas for highly skilled workers.

The Trump administration’s proclamation suspends most new H1-B visas for highly skilled workers, L-1 visas for internal company transfers, H-2B visas for seasonal workers, and J-1 visas for work-and-study based exchange visitor programs through the end of 2020.  

The proclamation cites high unemployment numbers and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic as justification for the move.  Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli claims it will "preserve about 525,000 jobs for Americans during the remainder of 2020."

HR Policy’s letter to the White House advocates a different outlook.  Among the major points:

  • Nonimmigrant workers of all skill levels benefit their companies, American workers, and the American economy.

  • These benefits are shared widely.  In areas where such workers meet a workforce need, wages increase and new jobs for Americans are created.

  • Losing foreign talent to international competitors means decreased productivity and a prolonged economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

The proclamation expands on April's proclamation banning immigration, and extends the expiration to December 31, 2020.

National interest exemption:  The proclamation requires the Secretaries of State and Labor to establish standards to define certain exempt categories of otherwise covered nonimmigrant workers.  Broadly, these exemptions would include those who are involved in fighting COVID-19 or are "necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States," among other categories.

The proclamation directs DHS and DOL to consider promulgating further regulations or other actions on H-1B visas to ensure that they do not "disadvantage United States workers."

DACA still in the crosshairs:  President Trump has promised to end the DACA program in a second attempt.  However, the process could take as much as six months.  With the November election looming, that may not be enough time. 

HR Policy will continue to engage on this issue, in particular the H-1B rulemaking mentioned above that the DOL and DHS are preparing to initiate and the definitions of workers exempt from this proclamation.  

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