Will More Tech Companies Sue Over Trump’s H-1B Visa Policy?

It seems that it was only a matter of time before some tech companies began fighting the Trump administration’s new H-1B rules.

On October 11, ITServe Alliance, a nonprofit group that counts more than 1,000 IT service organizations as its members, filed a lawsuit against the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The group accuses USCIS of approving visas for too short a period—a few weeks, in some cases, rather than the “standard” three-year term. It wants the court to limit the ability of USCIS to set these ultra-short validity periods.

“This exercise of claimed authority results in H-1B approval periods as short as a few days,” read the group’s complaint. “This often creates the absurd result where Defendant [USCIS] sends approval notices to employers for visas that have already expired.” Indeed, one visa, submitted as an exhibit in the lawsuit, was only valid from June 15 through August 10, 2018—and mailed on August 29.

In an interview with Forbes, Jonathan Wasden, the attorney filing the suit, said that USCIS policy makes it hard for companies to run their operations with any degree of certainty. “USCIS is claiming the authority, in essence, to pick at random how long an H-1B petition is approved,” he said. “This is a major problem because it is almost impossible to run a business when you don’t know if you’re going to have your employees for any reasonable period of time.”

But in a February 2018 memo, USCIS insisted that it does have the authority to set time limits:

“While an H-1B petition may be approved for up to three years, USCIS will, in its discretion, generally limit the approval period to the length of time demonstrated that the beneficiary will be placed in non-speculative work and that the petitioner will maintain the requisite employer-employee relationship, as documented by contracts, statements of work, and other similar types of evidence.”

However this lawsuit pans out, the Trump administration’s visa policies have already provoked legal action. For example, advocacy group Save Jobs USA recently filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), arguing that the agency is taking too long in rescinding the ability of certain spouses of H-1B visa holders to obtain the H-4 visa to work in the United States. DHS has pushed back, insisting that it will submit the rule for approval within the next three months.

In August, technology titans such as Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff signed an open letter, addressed to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, that argued against the ongoing tweaks to immigration and H-1B policy. “Changes in immigration policy… are causing considerable anxiety for many thousands of our employees while threatening to disrupt company operations,” the text began.

It’s not inconceivable, of course, that a massive firm such as Apple could take more direct action against the government over visas. At this juncture, though, that’s idle speculation. What’s known is that the Trump administration continues to tighten its visa policies—even as tech companies successfully apply for a rising number of H-1Bs.

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7 Responses to “Will More Tech Companies Sue Over Trump’s H-1B Visa Policy?”

  1. H1B Visas has KILLED my line of business. Companies that used to pay good money for quality work now employ ten people from the Indian Subcontinent for what they pay one American worker. Exploitation and corruption at its core.

  2. It’s a challenging topic. The last 3 administrations set things up so that 1000s of American workers were displaced by foreigners on the false premise that those workers offered skills that were not available here. Then these foreigners were hired, trained by people like myself, 3 times, before we were laid off. Why did we need to train them to do our jobs if they already had yhr skills to do it and so did we?
    We didn’t need these workers when the economy was weak.
    Now that the economy is strong, maybe we need some of those people to fill the jobs, but for now long, and will they return when their schedule time is up or will they remain here and compete with Americans when the economy weakens again?

  3. There was an CNBC interview with Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, he says that 60% of the Goldman Sachs workforce is 30 years old or less. He was saying like it was a good thing.
    I have never seen a more clear admission of ageism anywhere. I know that Goldman does not hire people older than 30 years old, and lays off and somehow forces out anybody older than 30.
    The only people left older than 30 are either there for “diversity” purposes, or have strong connections.
    In my experience, this attitude is widespread in the banking industry, and elsewhere.

    Well, the industry needs a lot of people to burn so fast through so many employees. That is why the American population is too small for them.