Executives from big tech firms are already pressing the incoming Biden administration to reverse Trump-era rules around H-1B and tech immigration.
TechNet, which bills itself as a “bipartisan network” of technology CEOs and senior executives from firms such as Google, Cisco and eBay, has filed amicus briefs in lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s recent H-1B restrictions, according to The Hill. In addition, it’s apparently reached out to Biden’s people about their plans.
“They’ve indicated they are going to be very different than the Trump administration on high-skilled immigration, immigration in general,” TechNet CEO Linda Moore told the publication, referring to that outreach. “High-skilled immigration…has led to so much growth and technological superiority and competitiveness for the U.S.”
Biden’s incoming administration has also reportedly reached out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another opponent of Trump’s H-1B approach, to indicate that at least some policies will end up reversed.
But labor advocates worry that any such reversal will allow companies to abuse the H-1B, replacing American workers with cheaper alternatives. “There are some good people on the transition teams and also good advising on the economic policy side of things… Let’s hope that their voices get heard and don’t get drowned out by these corporate interests,” Ron Hira, a political science professor at Howard University, recently told KQED.
Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists, recently asked its audience if they thought Biden would loosen restrictions on skilled foreign workers once he takes office; around 74 percent thought the President-elect will “remove executive orders limiting high-skilled immigration,” while 64 percent assumed that future White House policies will increase “the pipeline of foreign-born workers for technology firms.”
“With any new president, there are many unknowns,” read Blind’s blog posting on the data. “We don’t know which tech policies will be prioritized—or others that may come to the fore. However, tech professionals feel confident that this administration will make h1-b visas more accessible.”
Over at Forbes, there’s an extensive breakdown of the ways that Biden could adjust immigration policy, with or without Democratic control of the U.S. Congress (which hinges on the upcoming Senate runoff election in Georgia). These adjustments include tweaking the per-country limit for employment-based immigration, or even adjusting the minimum wages that companies must pay H-1B workers. Meanwhile, President Trump still has more than a month left in his term, and could push to make some of his H-1B reforms even more permanent.