Extensive U.S. Immigration Ban to Place Strain on Businesses and Economy

June 30, 2020 | by Rehan Alimohammad, Partner; and Ammar Dadabhoy, Senior Associate

In the most recent Executive Order (hereinafter “Order”), issued on June 22, 20201, the President suspended issuance of new work visas until the end of the year. The Order itself is sweeping and affects many different visa classes including the H-1B and L-1 visas. The Order is the latest in the line of orders issued from the White House aimed at curbing immigration.2 This article takes a look at the effects this Order will have on businesses around the nation.

The Order suspends all new H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visas effective immediately until the end of the year.3 Practically speaking, those who have not obtained their non-immigrant visa and are still outside of the United States will not be able to enter the U.S. There are a couple of exceptions for workers who are deemed to work in essential services to the United States food supply chain or whose entry would be in the national interest.4 The “consular officer shall determine, in his or her discretion” whether the nonimmigrant meets the exception according to the Order.5 Canadians entering as H, L, or J nonimmigrants will be exempt from the Order.6

The L-1 visa category is invaluable for multinational companies for a variety of reasons. It is a well-documented fact that the United States has a major shortage of highly-qualified STEM (those working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers.7 Multinational companies are able to utilize their presence in foreign countries to fill the STEM gap by utilizing this visa category. Also, by hiring individuals from foreign countries, multinational companies enhance their ability to cultivate a diverse workforce aiding creativity and innovation.8

The Order will also block businesses around the country who are attempting to utilize the H-1B program to attract talent around the world or bring much needed assistance in the form of short-term workers. Companies around the United States will be particularly affected as New York, San Jose, Dallas, Atlanta, Columbus, Houston, and Austin are among the top metro areas to utilize this program.9 Many of the companies who utilize this program will be starved for talent to fill those open positions.

Additionally, the H-2B visas are often used by business for seasonal non-agricultural labor. These visas are utilized by individuals working in hospitality, construction, or tourist industries. Many of these industries have been hard hit from the global pandemic and will require skilled labor in order to recover.

Alphabet CEP Sundar Pichai, along with many others, have voiced their opposition to the current ban.10 “Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement posted on their website.11 Many companies may be forced to keep critical jobs unfilled.12 This will result in lasting damage to the economy.

Historically, America has been able to draw from some of the brightest individuals across the globe by providing access to these visas. Ignoring and excluding these individuals from entering the United States during a global pandemic which will require their skills is a misstep. Being a diverse law firm, Wong Fleming stands with immigrants, nonimmigrants, people of color, and diverse individuals around the nation.

If you have any questions regarding your immigration case, feel free to contact Rehan Alimohammad (http://www.wongfleming.com/member/alimohammad-rehan/) or Ammar Dadabhoy (http://www.wongfleming.com/member/dadabhy-ammar/) at 281-340-2074.

Rehan Alimohammad is a Partner in the Sugar Land, Texas office of Wong Fleming in charge of Immigration Law, and Tax Law. He is a CPA since 1999 and Attorney since 2001, was listed as a Super Lawyer in Immigration Law, one of the Top Attorneys in Houston, and is AV rated. He is the only immigration attorney ever to serve as the Chair of the Board for the State Bar of Texas.

Ammar Dadabhoy serves as a Senior Associate in the firm’s Sugar Land, Texas office. He has a practice concentration in commercial litigation, immigration, corporate law, and business transactions.


References

[1] Full proclamation available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/
[2] See shutdown of asylum processing on the southern border of the United States. More information available at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-mexican-border.html; see also suspension of new green cards being issued. More information available at https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52391678.
[3] Whitehouse, supra note 1.
[4] For the purposes of determining who is covered under the “national interest” exemption, the Proclamation directs the Agencies to determine standards for those to whom such an exemption would be available, including any individuals who: (i) are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States; (ii) are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized; (iii) are involved with the provision of medical research at U.S. facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19; (iv) are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States; or (v) are children who would age out of eligibility for a visa because of this proclamation or Proclamation 10014.
[5] Whitehouse, supra note 1.
[6] See also https://www.nny360.com/news/nationandworld/stefanik-says-canadian-visa-holders-will-continue-to-be-allowed-into-u-s-in-spite/article_0eae736d-5f9a-5aa2-9e4c-5bb860d09173.html.
[7] See https://www.forbes.com/sites/arthurherman/2018/09/10/americas-high-tech-stem-crisis/#428778dff0a2.
[8] See https://hbr.org/2017/03/teams-solve-problems-faster-when-theyre-more-cognitively-diverse.
[9] See https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/29/h-1b-visa-approvals-by-us-metro-area/.
[10] See https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/23/google-amazon-tesla-trump-immigration.html; See also Linda Moore, the president and chief executive of the tech industry’s lobbying group, TechNet, in a statement stated “technology will continue to be crucial to the rebuilding of our economy. Today’s executive order only hinders the ability of businesses to make decisions on how best to deploy their existing workforce and hire new employees. This will slow innovation and undermine the work the technology industry is doing to help our country recover from unprecedented events.” http://technet.org/press-release/technet-comments-on-h-1b-and-other-visas-executive-order.
[11] See https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/us-chamber-s-donohue-immigration-proclamation-severe-and-sweeping-attempt-restrict.
[12] See https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/29/h-1b-visa-approvals-by-us-metro-area/.