Photo of Elizabeth (Liz) Espín Stern

Elizabeth Espín Stern, a partner in Mayer Brown's Washington DC office, leads the firm’s Global Mobility & Migration practice, which forms part of the Employment & Benefits group. She is a seasoned veteran, advising on US and global immigration, HR and mobility services. She is consistently ranked as a leading business immigration lawyer by Chambers GlobalChambers USAWho's Who LegalThe International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, and national and local publications. In addition, she has been named in Best Lawyers in AmericaSuper Lawyers and "Women in Law Awards 2014" by Lawyer Monthly and named one of National Law Journal’s “Outstanding Women Lawyers 2015.” She spearheads Mayer Brown's new global worksite management initiative. This "Global People Solution" offers multinational clients, in a variety of sectors including financial services, IT, defense, telecommunications and multimedia, a comprehensive compliance and risk management program in connection with their mobile workforce. Liz regularly speaks and writes about immigration policies and contributes to major news agencies and publications, including Law 360, Quartz.com, Global Business News and a host of global HR publications.

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The White House decreed on Monday, January 18, that the entry bans on most of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Brazil would end as early as January 26, just six days after Mr. Biden takes office, citing the decision last week by the administration to require international travelers to present either the results of a negative recent coronavirus test or evidence that they had already recovered from the disease.  President-elect Biden rejected the move, which means the curbs on incoming travel from these regions, which have been in place since March 2020, will remain in place after the inauguration.  “On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” tweeted Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the Biden administration, immediately after President Trump’s decree was issued.  “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Continue Reading Gates Open, Then Shut – President-Elect Biden Says COVID Bans Will Remain In Place Despite Trump Executive Order

On the cusp of the transition of power to President Biden, the Trump administration is pressing forward with three separate rulemakings restricting the H-1B visa program, which employers rely on to hire foreign workers for specialty professions, including in the pivotal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) fields. The new rules seek to substantially increase the price tag on engaging H-1B talent, narrow eligibility of foreign workers whose academic degrees are not singularly tied to their job role, restrict third-party worksite assignments, and tie the chances of being selected in what has become an annual lottery to those filling senior positions at higher wage levels.

H-1B visas are generally the only way highly educated foreign nationals, including international students, can become employment-based immigrants and contribute to research and development, scientific and technological advances, and new businesses. If the Trump administration rules are allowed to stand, employers will face significant operational challenges, as all H-1B filings – including amendments, extensions, and new cap-subject petitions – will be affected.

The Biden administration will have several tools at its disposal to circumvent the suite of H-1B rules, as well as any other rules issued during the lame duck period between the election and the inauguration – so-called “midnight rules.” These include:
Continue Reading Late-Breaking H-1B Rulemaking By Trump Administration Subject to “Midnight Rule” Rollback by New President

The Japanese government announced this weekend that it will be suspending foreign entry into Japan (with certain exceptions) from December 28, 2020 until the end of January 2021.  The blanket ban is a precaution against a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant that has spread across Britain.

The Foreign Ministry of Japan indicated in

Tonight I had the pleasure of participating in the Financial Times North American Innovative Lawyers Award, which were “live” online tonight, December 10, 2020.  Kudos to hosts Reena Sengupta, Managing Director of RSG Consulting, and Robert Grange and Robert Armstrong of the Financial Times, for running a flawless event.  The silver lining for not being together in New  York participating in the gala event was that we, the in house law departments and outside firms on the short list for awards, could invite our full corps.  In my case, I had the pleasure of inviting many colleagues, including the associates who worked throughout the past nine months to ensure we maintained fluid, seamless connectivity with our clients as they and we worked together to surmount the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continue Reading Financial Times Awards Focus on Innovation During COVID-19 Pandemic

This afternoon, the US District Court for the Northern District of California set aside two rules issued by the Trump administration pertaining to employer sponsorship of H-1B workers, both of which bypassed notice-and-comment rulemaking as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”):

  • The Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens

Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an unprecedented global financial crisis with no end in sight. When it comes to stabilizing the financial system, the US president and his Democratic challenger have different approaches in mind.

A second Trump administration would continue to see a loosening in financial regulation, while the Biden

One of the top 10 issues affecting US immigration in the next 100 days will depend on the outcome of lawsuits challenging an overhaul of the eligibility, wage levels, and employment rules for the H-1B visa category, which governs the hiring of highly-skilled workers by US employers across industries. Today a leading group of business associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Bay Area Council, and National Retail Federation, as well as number of educational institutions and associations, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) challenging the Strengthening the H-1B Program rule and the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States rule. The suit was filed in the Northern District of California. US Chamber CEO Tom Donohue issued the following statement with regard to the lawsuit:

Continue Reading Game-Changing H-1B Rules Challenged by Business and Academia

Executive Summary

The Trump Administration has introduced long-anticipated changes to the H-1B visa program for highly-skilled foreign workers, aimed at tightening eligibility for STEM talent working at major US employers, including by imposing a rigid requirement that any job offered to an H-1B worker require a single specific degree in a subspecialty, and that each H-1B candidate have that specific degree to qualify.

The changes, some of which come under immediate effect and all of which will likely face legal challenges, would make it tougher for applicants to qualify for an H-1B visa and significantly more expensive for employers to sponsor them for H-1Bs or for green cards.

The changes also will create high barriers for vendor partners to provide talent to major customers, as both the expense of new wages and specific requirements for vendors to renew their H-1Bs annually (or more frequently if statements of work provide for shorter periods), raise their costs substantially.


Continue Reading Trump Administration Issues Two New Rules to Restrict H-1B Visas and Increase Expenses for Employers Sponsoring Highly-Skilled Workers for Visas and Green Cards

The White House has announced issuance of two new rules, both of which will take effect immediately upon publication in the Federal Register:

  1.  The Department of Homeland Security’s H-1B rule,  “Strengthening the H-1B Non-immigrant Visa Classification Program,” which has been on the DHS regulatory agenda for many years, including its first appearance in Fall 2017

The US District Court for the Northern District of California has issued an order temporarily enjoining President Trump’s proclamation suspending the entry of certain temporary workers.  On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed Proclamation 10052, Section 2 of which suspended the entry of foreign nationals seeking admission in four visa categories of substantial importance to US companies—H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas—for the remainder of the calendar year and laid the groundwork for regulatory changes to transform when and how employers can sponsor foreign workers to work in the United States. For a full discussion of the Proclamation, please see our blog post, Trump Order Suspends Major Visa Categories, Including H-1B and L-1, Through the End of the Calendar Year, With Rulemaking Restrictions to Follow. The ban only applied to individuals in these categories who were outside the United States when the Proclamation took effect; were not in possession of a nonimmigrant visa on that date; and had no other authorization to travel to the United States, such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole authorization.

Continue Reading Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction in Case Challenging Nonimmigrant Visa Ban