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CEO DATELINE – Court ruling tosses H-1B restrictions challenged by associations

December 2, 2020
By Kathryn Walson

A U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Dec. 1 struck down the Trump administration’s recent restrictions on the immigration of skilled foreign workers.

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Federal Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the Trump administration failed to show why it didn’t need to follow normal procedures, including providing time to receive comments on the new restrictions. The Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security had requested a “good cause exception” to those requirements because of the economic consequences of the pandemic.

A coalition of universities and trade groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sued the Trump administration in October over the new rules, which would mandate higher pay for H-1B workers and redefine who is eligible for the visas.

The court's rejection of changes to the H-1B visa program is “a win for the hundreds of thousands of American-based workers who are essential to the recovery and renewal of our industry and our economy,” NAM said in a statement.

“We need high-skilled innovators now more than ever, and the administration’s attempt to rush these rules forward without properly considering their impact on thousands of people on the front lines of developing vaccines and treatments and making critical supplies, as well as saving lives in our hospitals, could have devastating consequences at a critical moment in our history,” NAM said.

The two new rules “had the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses” Jon Baselice, director of immigration policy for the Chamber of Commerce, told the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 1.

“This ruling has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief today,” Baselice said.

The lawsuit said two interim final rules published in The Federal Register Oct. 8 “constitute a coordinated assault on the H-1B visa category.”

The Trump administration’s interim final rules say the aim is to “protect jobs of U.S. workers as a part of responding to the national emergency and facilitate the nation's economic recovery.”

Plaintiffs to the lawsuit also include the National Retail Federation and the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment.