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While less so on workforce immigration issues, there still has
been activity revolving around the shift in policies in the U.S. and abroad in
regard to attracting foreign talent.
In the U.S., the traditional advocates in Congress for increasing high-skilled
immigration look for openings to insert the issue into the larger immigration
debate as the Administration narrows the focus on employment of foreign
nationals. There is unlikely to be movement in the U.S. this year on
significant workforce immigration legislation. However, there are still four
months left in this Congress, so nothing can be ruled out. At the very least,
the stage is being set for 2019.
With that in mind, Representatives of Worldwide ERC®, led by
President and CEO Peggy Smith, have been meeting with key congressional offices
involved on workforce and high-skilled immigration issues. We have been using
our unique voice as the association for the mobility industry to become an
invaluable resource for Congress on workforce immigration issues.
Worldwide ERC® has been monitoring and reporting on a number of
mobility policies. Below is an update on some of the key immigration issues.
On 26 June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of
third Presidential action suspending entry of foreign nationals from seven
countries into the U.S. The Court ruled that President Trump has the authority
on national security grounds to restrict travel into the U.S. President Trump
put the current travel restrictions in place on 24 September 2017, through a
The Presidential proclamation travel into the U.S. for foreign
nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as well as
government officials from Venezuela. The Proclamation does not apply the same
restrictions universally to nationals from all countries. In the case of
nationals from Libya and Yemen, individuals cannot obtain visas even for
business travel. Whereas the restriction does not apply to nationals from the
Individuals affected by the suspension have the ability to seek a
waiver on a case-by-case basis. Finally,
the previous executive actions were for periods of 90 days, the Proclamation
does not have an expiration date.
In December 2017, the Department of Homeland Security informed the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the Department planned
to publish a proposed rule to repeal the regulation permitting H-4 visa holders
to work in the U.S. The regulation was issued in 2015 during the Obama
Administration. The proposed rule initially was to be released in February but still
has yet to be published.
The proposed rule will likely seek to revoke the employment
authorization documents (EADs) of H-4 visa holders. Under the current regulation,
approximately 71,000 H-4 visa holders have received EADs. Stakeholders will
have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule with the Department of
Homeland Security expected to publish a final rule by the end of the year.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, then-Congressman Jason
Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017
(H.R 392). The legislation would remove the country caps (with limitations) on
the number of green cards available to high-skilled workers from any particular
country and implement a system based on the number of available green cards. The
previous version of this legislation had passed the House with wide bipartisan
support and H.R. 392 has 325 cosponsors at the time of print. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a
companion bill (S. 281) in the United States Senate.
The language of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of
2017 was included in the Border Security and
Immigration Reform Act of 2018 (H.R. 6136) which was one of the bills
considered by the House to address the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals
(DACA). H.R. The legislation, however, H.R. 6136 would have ultimately also
decreased the number of eligible work visas.
On 27 June 2018, the House voted overwhelmingly against passage of the
Related: U.S. Congress Passes CFIUS Reform Measure
On 25 January 2018 of this year, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and
Jeff Flake (R-ZA) reintroduced the Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act.
Senators Hatch and Flake have introduced similar legislation in the last two
Congresses. The legislation, S. 2344, has been referred to the Senate Committee
on the Judiciary.
S. 2344 would among other policy changes do the following:
In past Congresses, a similar bill has been introduced in the
House of Representatives. A House companion bill has not yet been introduced. With
Senators Hatch and Flake retiring at the end of this Congress, it is uncertain
as to who would reintroduce the bill next Congress.
The J-1 Visa is an exchange visitor program which enables
professors, students, government officials among others to travel to the U.S.
to exchange knowledge and develop work experience. The program had been
targeted for potential reduction but currently maintains bipartisan support in
the Senate and no changes have been made thus far. In certain cases, suppliers
involved in the relocation of an employee have been able to secure J-1 visas to
handle temporary seasonal increases in demand for their services.
Related: Relinquishment of U.S. Citizenship Declines Sharply in 2018
Over the course of the next few months, Worldwide ERC® plans to
conduct additional meetings on Capitol Hill. The focus will be to continue to
build the standing of Worldwide ERC® with key policymakers on immigration issue
and advocate for policies to improve employee mobility.