Today, President Trump issued an Executive Order that would suspend the issuance of immigrant visas (green cards) for a period of 60 days. The EO only applies to persons obtaining an immigrant visa from abroad and contains exemptions for a number of categories including healthcare workers. The exemption for healthcare workers may apply only to those entering the US specifically to combat COVID-19 but, that is not clear. With the on-going closure of US Consulates abroad and with immigrant visa numbers exhausted (retrogressed) in many categories until Oct 1, 2020, this EO has very little, if any, effect on employment based immigration. The EO does contain a foreboding announcement that within 30 days, an additional EO may be issued to address non-immigrant visas. Given this Administration's open disdain for the H-1b and L-1 programs and the repeated efforts to circumvent the current regulations and statutes, this may be an opportunity for them to achieve their goal of reducing legal immigration, just in time for the election.
The attacks on Trump's new EO are growing in number as people review what the EO is trying to achieve. An article in The Federalist is worth reading. Another article at SHRM.org discusses the limitations that the President has in making meaningful changes to the H-1b program without legislative action.
Yesterday, President Trump issued an Executive Order impacting business immigration specifically, the H-1b visa. The order makes NO immediate changes to the H-1b program but, changes they are a coming. The EO essentially makes two (2) directives. First, it orders all agencies that touch the H-1b program to review all of its policies and regulations and write new policies and regulations to further protect US workers and prevent fraud and abuse in the H-1b program. Long-term, this may result in new proposed regulations which will be the subject of notice and comment. In the next few months, this may mean more policy memos, such as the memo released in late March which changed 20 years of policy and declared that many computer programmer positions would no longer be considered H-1b level occupations. As we saw with the introduction of the Neufeld policy memo in 2010, policy memos can have a major impact on a visa category. Immediately, I think we will see an increase in H-1b site visits; DOL LCA audits; 221(g) and administrative processing by US Consulates at visa stamping; RFE's; use of the NOID in place of the RFE; NOIR issuances; and, denials. The President is proclaiming that H-1b visas harm US workers and there is rampant fraud and abuse and by his comments and this EO, he is directing his administration to do everything in its power to right this wrong. If we thought the "culture of NO" which was pervasive during the last Administration was strong, we now expect to see the "culture of HELL NO" Secondly, the EO requests that the agencies involved devise a new scheme to replace the H-1b lottery and award the limited pool of H-1b visas to the "most-skilled or highest paid". The assumption being made in this EO is that [...]