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Federal judge strikes down Trump’s attempt to limit H-1B visas

The Trump Administration said its move last month to limit the number of foreign workers from entering the country was to protect U.S. workers facing COVID-19-related job losses. A federal judge on Dec. 1 in Oakland did not agree.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White overturned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to establish severe restrictions to the H-1B visa program that brings highly skilled foreign workers into the country in industries such as engineering, science, medicine, education and IT. Highly skilled foreign workers, their families along with numerous U.S. companies applauded the ruling.

Roughly 85,000 such visas issued annually

White struck down the proposed rules that would have limited the annual number of H-1B visas issued. In addition, the Trump Administration order would have made it more expensive for companies to bring such workers on board because it forced them to pay exorbitant wages.

The U.S. usually issues 85,000 H-1B visas each year. Under the Trump Administration’s proposed rule, applications for these highly sought-after visas would be reduced by one-third.

Judge White cited the fact that the Trump Administration surreptitiously attempted to bypass any chance of public comment on the proposal, which it introduced in October. The order was set to become law by early December. The Trump Administration argued that quick implementation was necessary. However, White disagreed, noting that the administration would have adopted the rules six months after the pandemic began.

Limited chance for public comment

The case’s origin stems from a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some universities such as the University of Utah and the California Institute of Technology. The plaintiffs questioned the transparency of the Trump Administration’s plan because there were limited opportunities for public comment. In addition, the proposal would hinder relationships between U.S. companies and a vast number of existing employees.

In the U.S., so many employers rely on highly skilled foreign workers. Many start-up companies as well as hospitals – especially rural medical facilities – benefit from the talents and abilities they bring to the fold.