CHICAGO – A federal judge on Tuesday overturned two Trump administration rules aimed at drastically limiting the number of visas issued annually to skilled foreign workers.
Changes to the H-1B visa program announced in October include setting wage requirements for companies employing skilled workers overseas and restricting special occupations. Ministry of Homeland Security officials have made it a priority because of the job losses caused by the coronavirus, and they estimate that one-third of patients who resort to H-1B have been rejected in recent years.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government did not follow transparency procedures and its claim that the changes came as an emergency response to the loss of pandemic jobs did not sustain the water because the Trump administration had been in business for some time. he floated the idea, but only the rules in October.
“The COVID-19 epidemic is an event beyond the control of the defendants, yet it was under the control of the defendants to act earlier than they did,” White wrote.
The United States issues up to 85,000 H-1B visas annually in the technology, engineering, and medical sectors. They are usually issued for three years and are renewable. In the U.S., most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders come from India and China.
The H-1B rules, announced weeks before the election, were part of President Donald Trump’s broader agenda aimed at curbing almost all forms of immigration. In June, it issued a temporary suspension of the H-1B program until the end of the year.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and universities, including the California Institute of Technology, were sued in California, arguing that the public did not have adequate notice or time to comment on the changes. They also said the rules, particularly those related to requiring visa holders to have a dominant salary, would have a drastic impact on new employees and “terminate the employment of hundreds of thousands of workers in the United States.”
The University of Utah cited an example where an H-1B employee requesting a renewal was paid $ 80,000 but should have paid $ 208,000 under the new rule.
The judge agreed that the federal government did not justify the implementation of the rules of the Administrative Procedure Act, which could hold agencies accountable to the public by requiring detailed regulations for the adoption of regulations.
“Defendants have not shown that there is good reason to disregard the reasonable and thoughtful speech provided by the APA’s notification and comment requirements,” White wrote.
The wage rule proposed by the Ministry of Labor came into force in October, while the rules on occupations and other matters in the defense should have come into force on Monday. It would also have imposed restrictions on “offsite” companies that employ H-1B visa holders and contract with other companies; their visa would have been limited to one year at a time.
“This is an incredibly important decision to preserve the H-1B program,” said attorney Paul Hughes, who represented the plaintiffs. “This decision will allow individuals to maintain their jobs and families in the United States.”
The Chamber of Commerce said in a statement that the ruling “has a number of companies in various industries that breathe a sigh of relief” and that visa changes “could potentially incredibly disrupt many businesses”.
Messages abandoned on Tuesday were not immediately returned to spokesmen for the Department of Labor and Homeland Security.
The wage rule has filed at least two other federal lawsuits in New Jersey and Washington DC