May 2020 Immigration Roundup

May 2020 Immigration Roundup

Outside GC’s immigration team shares important immigration-related developments below:

GOP senators ask Trump to suspend H-1B and certain other immigration programs

A quartet of Republican senators have urged President Trump to suspend certain immigration benefits, including H-1B, H-2B (for agricultural workers), OPT, and EB-5, for a period of no less than 60 days to reduce competition for US job seekers as the country attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at the direction of the White House, subsequently provided President Trump with new guidelines (unreleased to the public) for restricting immigration which potentially include these programs and could go even further.  Trump is expected to issue a new executive order sometime this month that would implement some or all of DHS’s guidelines.  However, the business, tech, and education sectors are lobbying heavily against any such moves. We will be closely monitoring the situation for any further developments.

HEROES Act would benefit immigrant healthcare workers

Speaker Pelosi introduced the HEROES Act which contains several provisions that would positively impact immigrant healthcare workers in the short-term, including:

  • Affording US employers greater flexibility to hire such essential workers who are already present in the U.S. without requiring evidence of an employment authorization document;
  • Expediting green cards for physicians who have completed their 5 years of National Interest Waiver service;
  • Expediting nonimmigrant petitions (such as H-1B and O-1) for healthcare workers; and
  • Permanently extending H-1B portability/change of employer provisions to O-1s petitions.

The House is expected to pass the HEROES Act today (May 15th).

DOJ defends H-4 employment authorization provisions

In an unexpected twist, the Trump administration has decided to defend Obama-era regulations that provide work authorization documents to “H-4” spouses of certain H-1B workers in a lawsuit pending before the DC District Court.  The administration stated its intent to eliminate these provisions in December 2017 as part of President Trump’s overall push to limit immigration.

The suit, filed by a group representing technology workers, claims that the H-4 work authorization provisions have harmed US workers by allowing foreign nationals who will accept lower wages to compete for the same jobs.  The DOJ has argued that the plaintiffs have not shown that they have suffered “irreparable harm” on account of the provisions.

It is unclear if DOJ’s position in the suit signals an overall shift in President Trump’s stance on H-4 employment authorization. However, the tech sector has weighed heavily on the administration to preserve the provisions over past several years.

If you have any questions, please contact attorneys Lori Geisinger at [email protected] or Edward Farwell at [email protected].

This publication should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances not an offer to represent you. It is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your attorney concerning any particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have. Pursuant to applicable rules of professional conduct, portions of this publication may constitute Attorney Advertising.

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