The Trump administration has issued a new H-1B visa suspension for the second time since April to pressure companies, especially those in the tech industry, to hire American workers. As a result, no new H-1B visas will be granted through December 31. This news comes at a time when record unemployment has hit the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s take a deep dive into how the tech sector is affected by H-1B suspension.
What is an H-1B Visa?
For years, the H-1B visa program has allowed U.S. companies to temporarily hire foreign workers in various fields, particularly in science, engineering, IT, teaching, and accounting.
The program provides an opportunity for organizations to secure employees for jobs where there are not enough U.S. workers with the required specialty skills for the role, especially in the IT and computer science fields.
How the U.S. Workforce is Affected by H-1B Visa Suspensions
On June 22, the Trump administration announced the extension of the H-1B visa suspension to protect U.S. workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
The order states that foreign workers pose a major threat to American workers who must compete against “millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work.”
The order states: “Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers. Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
The order also includes updated language directing the departments of Labor and Homeland Security to create more rules and regulations. They have to ensure that applicants coming to the country for roles in the tech industry do not hurt U.S. workers’ prospects.
The latest ban has seen opposition from critics who do not agree with the administration’s logic on the matter, especially those in the tech industry.
How the Tech Sector is Affected by H-1B Suspension
Those in the tech industry have expressed that the latest ban has hurt their organizations, making it harder to fill much-needed roles, harming innovation, and stifling operations.
The ban has also had a negative impact on companies that planned to bring in new executives and managers abroad to take over for any current employees whose visas were expiring. These companies must now change their plans.
Legal experts say that the ban’s extension will have especially adverse effects on employers who need to hire workers with specialized skills.
While the latest H-1B suspension has suspended new applications, it does not affect workers who are already in the U.S. under H-1B visas. These individuals may continue to work for their current employers.
How H-1B Suspension Affects Incoming Workers
As a result of the H-1B visa suspension, some companies may need to reconsider their top candidates. H-1B hires who were scheduled to begin in October of this year, for example, may not be able to arrive until at least January 2021.
This can pose an issue for employers who may now need to look into hiring new workers who can begin earlier since their top choice will not be available until early next year.
For now, however, employers are advised not to make changes to their H-1B October hires since there may be legal challenges and barriers preventing the latest ban from even going into effect. For example, the court may turn around and say that the president does not have the authority to do this. Employers should refrain from taking any drastic actions until further notice.
In addition, with government consulate offices around the globe closed due to the pandemic, filing and processing H-1B visas are nearly impossible now.
Use This Time to Consider Next Steps
Although we are in a gray area right now, it is essential to use this time wisely. Employers should take this time to think about their plans and any next steps.
Although there is a current ban in place, you can still try to get a head start on applications and petitions. Although your candidate may not be able to travel until January, there is still a benefit to beginning the application and filing any necessary petitions.
Immigration’s Impact on The Tech Industry
Many of the U.S. tech industry is made of immigrants that come from around the world. In fact, many companies currently use the H-1B program to bring in workers, such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, IBM, Intel, and others. With the recent suspension of H-1B visas, many are left wondering: What’s the next move for companies in the tech industry and companies that rely heavily on tech support?
At Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS), we’re committed to providing our clients with the support they need in times as unprecedented as these. If you have any questions regarding new hires or the H-1B visa suspension, please don’t hesitate to reach out.