President Donald Trump surprised the immigration community recently with an encouraging tweet about H-1B visa holders:

H-1B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship.  We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.

While the President has long spoken about focusing on bringing the “best and brightest” to the United States, his Administration’s actions over the past year have made it more difficult for companies and individuals to obtain H-1B visas and have not made H-1B workers feel particularly secure in their statuses.  Among those actions are:

  • DOJ warned employers not to discriminate against U.S. workers in their hiring practices.
  • DHS has stepped up its worksite investigations of companies that hire H-1B workers.
  • USCIS issued guidance making it more difficult to employ H-1B workers at third party worksites.
  • USCIS no longer defers to approvals in prior decisions when a company requests an H-1B extension.
  • There has been a huge uptick in Requests for Evidence and denials of H-1B petitions.
  • There are plans to enshrine new definitions that will make it more difficult to qualify for H-1B status.
  • DHS plans to eliminate the H-4 EAD program that allows spouses of H-1B beneficiaries to work in the United States while they wait in long lines to become green card holders.
  • USCIS has issued policies that make it more likely that students will fall out of status.

We do know that DHS is planning to institute a new program that is likely to favor U.S. advanced degree holders in the H-1B lottery.  We also know that there have been bills introduced (although not passed) that would help to reduce the long backlogs for Indian and Chinese workers who are waiting in line for green cards.  (Of course this move would end up lengthening wait times for workers from other countries that have not been subject to backlogs.)

What could the President have in mind?  Is there substance behind this tweet? Jackson Lewis will continue to follow developments and provide updates.

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Photo of Forrest G. Read IV Forrest G. Read IV

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice…

Forrest Read is a Principal in the Raleigh, North Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has extensive experience in both business immigration law and employment law and has particular focus in legal issues in graduate medical education (GME).

Mr. Read’s immigration practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-based nonimmigrant visas (e.g., H-1B, L, O, TN) for foreign national employees and work-related immigrant (green card) visas, including PERM Labor Certifications, and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations. He has broad experience in advising large, mid-size and small employers on their various immigration needs and developing strategies to help them navigate through complex immigration issues. He also has particular experience in counseling employers in the health care industry and addressing immigration-related issues that arise for their broad range of health care professional employees (including advising on and obtaining employment authorization for medical residents and fellows and obtaining J-1 visa waivers for foreign national physicians completing their medical training in the United States). His immigration practice also includes defending employers in connection with Department of Labor H-1B and H-2B investigations.

Mr. Read’s employment law experience includes representing management, particularly academic medical centers in the GME context, in a wide array of workplace disputes and litigation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, including matters related to discrimination, retaliation, harassment, disability, family and medical leave, various wage and hour issues, contracts, and intentional torts. He advises academic medical centers on the interplay between applicable academic law and employment law and the ramifications of what are divergent legal requirements and standards. Mr. Read also provides counsel with respect to the legal impact of competency standards for residents and trainees in GME, including situations involving discipline, remediation, and dismissal. He provides advice and guidance in the peer review process, including provision of verification and assessment of training in response to third party inquiries.

As a member of the Firm’s Corporate Diversity Counseling group, Mr. Read also has experience in providing assessments and making recommendations to corporate and institutional clients with respect to diversity and inclusion policies and initiatives, conducting related internal investigations, and shaping, developing and enforcing effective policies and initiatives to ensure consistency with client values and in furtherance of business goals and objectives.