US Immigration Restrictions

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 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

On August 12, US District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the DC federal court ordered the federal government to turn over documents concerning the Trump administration’s coronavirus travel ban. As reported in an August 12 article in Law360, the federal government had until August 17 to hand over any policies, directives or orders.

Mayer

Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts announced that the federal government has agreed to rescind, on a nationwide basis, a policy that could have required hundreds of thousands of immigrant students studying at U.S. institutions to leave the country and likely curtail their studies. In the litigation challenging this policy, Mayer Brown represented and filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of 19 businesses and business associations that collectively power the U.S. economy.

Continue Reading Trump Administration Abandons Plan That Would Have Required International Students Taking Fully Online Courses to Leave the Country

In a sweeping attempt to curb legal immigration, the Trump administration issued a proclamation on June 22, 2020, applying a ban through the end of the calendar year on four visa categories of significance to US companies: the H-1B visa for specialty occupation professionals, the L-1 visa for intracompany executives and managers, the H-2B visa

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order in the next several days either eliminating, or significantly limiting, the availability of non-immigrant visas in categories of substantial importance to US companies (H-1B visas for specialty occupation workers, L visas for intra-company assignees, and other related categories), as well as eliminating or substantially curtailing the

President Trump signed an executive order, the “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak,” to pause issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who are outside the United States for 60 days.  The order, which takes effect at 11:59 pm Eastern daylight time on April 23, 2020, is limited in its current scope, as it only affects individuals who are outside the United States and do not have a valid visa.

As reported in our post yesterday, the order thus does not currently impact temporary workers, such as H-1B specialty occupation workers, L-1 intra-company executives and specialized knowledge transferees from overseas, treaty visa holders including NAFTA entrants, O-1 extraordinary ability aliens, and F-1 students. Nine categories of aliens also are exempt from the order’s suspension and limitations on entry:

  1. lawful permanent residents;
  2. health care workers, medical research personnel, and other workers deemed essential to combat the spread of COVID-19, and their accompanying spouse and children, seeking to enter on immigrant visas;
  3. EB-5 immigrant investor visa candidates;
  4. spouses of US citizens;
  5. children under 21, including prospective adoptees, of US citizens;
  6. individuals whose work is deemed to further law enforcement objectives;
  7. US military personnel and their spouse and children;
  8. certain holders of Special Immigrant Visas and their spouse and children; and
  9. individuals whose work is deemed to further national security interests.

In addition, the order allows applications for asylum, refugee status, withholding of deportation, or other relief under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to continue without limitation.
Continue Reading Trump Signs Executive Order Imposing 60-Day Pause on Green Card Issuance

President Donald Trump’s tweet late Monday night, April 20, 2020, that he would suspend immigration temporarily “[i]n light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens,” led to widespread speculation across the business community that the president was instituting a blanket ban on immigration.  As confirmed on Tuesday, April 21, by the president at a coronavirus press briefing, the executive order will be a far more limited measure with a much less dramatic impact.

The order, which the president indicated could be signed as early as tomorrow, April 22,  will “pause” permanent residency or “green card” visa issuance for 60 days, after which it will be revisited.  The order will not impact temporary workers, including H-1B specialty occupation workers, L-1 intra-company executives and specialized knowledge transferees from overseas, treaty visa holders including NAFTA entrants, O-1 extraordinary ability aliens, and F-1 student visa holders, who, among others, will continue to be able to obtain visas and admission into the United States. 
Continue Reading Trump Plan to Suspend Immigration Shifts to 60-Day Pause on Green Card Awards