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The New York Times – Businesses Brace for Possible Limits on Foreign Worker Visas

NYTMaya Nasr was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at 16 to study aerospace engineering. Currently a doctoral student there, she has been working on NASA’s next Mars rover, slated for launch this summer.

“By the time I finish my Ph.D., I will have spent 10 years in the U.S. researching what I am passionate about — getting people to Mars and human space exploration,” said Ms. Nasr, 23, who is Lebanese. “I would really like to stay here and work in this field.”

But recently she has been wracked with worry that the economic downturn that has left millions of Americans unemployed could threaten the visa program that would allow her to work as a foreigner in the United States once she graduates. “If I had to, I would consider Canada, the U.K. or Europe, but the U.S. is the place,” she said. (more…)

The Wall Street Journal – Trump Administration Considers Suspending H-1B, Other Visas Through the Fall

TrumpWASHINGTON—The Trump administration is weighing a proposal to suspend a slate of employment-based immigration visas, including the coveted H-1B high-skilled visa, according to administration officials familiar with the talks, among several possible measures amid the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The proposed suspension could extend into the government’s new fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, when many new visas are typically issued, these officials said. That could bar any new H-1B holder outside the country from coming to work until the suspension is lifted, though visa holders already in the country are unlikely to be affected.

The suspension proposal is one of a series of legal immigration limits that President Trump is considering as part of an executive action he is set to unveil in the coming weeks. The administration has argued that the pandemic requires limits on immigration to prevent sick people from entering the country and to ensure that Americans get jobs first as the economy rebounds. (more…)

Roll Call – Administration puts ‘hold’ on green card requests from US

American flag

After suspending approval of green card requests to immigrants abroad seeking U.S. residency, the Trump administration has also halted processing requests from green card applicants already living in the country.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told employees this week that a “general hold” on permanent residency applications filed from immigrants within the United States would remain in place. But it updated a list of exemptions to the hold in a Wednesday email and other internal communication seen by CQ Roll Call. It was not clear when the hold was originally implemented. (more…)

Forbes – House GOP Immigration Letter Backs OPT For International Students

GtownIn a surprise twist to the political drama over potential new immigration restrictions, 21 House Republicans sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf urging support for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students. Sources have confirmed some Trump officials hope to use the recent economic downturn due to Covid-19 to impose new restrictions on H-1B visa holders, international students and others. Deliberations on specifics continue inside the administration, which has prompted members of Congress and others to weigh in.

“We write to request your help in ensuring our nation’s ability to attract, educate, and engage with the best and brightest students and scholars from across the world,” begins the June 2, 2020, letter from House Republicans. “In furtherance of the goal, we ask your agencies adopt appropriately streamlined processes to ensure international students can enroll in the fall and preserve the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows our country to globally compete for market share of international students.”

(more…)

Forbes – USCIS-ITServe Settlement Overturns 10 Years Of H-1B Visa Policies

undefinedU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has agreed to a settlement with the business group ITServe Alliance that overturns 10 years of policies restricting employers and H-1B visa holders. The settlement follows a pivotal March 10, 2020, District Court opinion that repudiated key USCIS actions and a May 20, 2020, judge’s opinion in Georgia that ruled against USCIS policies.

For many companies, the problems with USCIS began with the “Neufeld” memo issued on January 8, 2010. In that memo, USCIS asserted the authority to deny H-1B petitions based on a potentially restrictive understanding of what constituted an “employer-employee” relationship, including when an H-1B visa holder performed work at a customer’s location. (more…)

Attorney Spotlight

Maria del Carmen Ramos, Partner, Handles all types of immigration matters for foreign nationals and large institutional clients, including routinely filing petitions for non-immigrant visas on behalf of employers, and advising and training employers on I-9 compliance.