What New Immigration Restrictions May Mean for Your Organization
A recent proclamation issued by the White House restricts temporary work visas through the end of 2020. Here’s what you need to know about this decision—and how it may impact your organization and the economy.
What's the Story?
A new proclamation signed by President Trump suspended H-1B visas for workers in a variety of industries—including technology and research—as well as H-2B visas, which pertain to temporary workers in nonagricultural roles including “processing, manufacturing, and packaging of human and animal food.”
Announced on June 22, 2020, the restrictions took effect on June 24, 2020, and are expected to expire at the end of the year.
This proclamation wasn’t issued in a vacuum. The administration’s announcement stated that the measures were taken to help counter the economic damage done by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in relation to the historically high unemployment rate. L-1 visas, H-4 visas, and most J-1 visas are also included in the temporary restriction.
There are two ways to approach how this may impact the economy. A case can certainly be made that these measures may help ease the strain on Americans competing for jobs, especially during a particularly difficult period when so many are out of work. On the other hand, the move could also have adverse effects on organizations that rely on international workers, including in the startup/tech world and in the meat processing industry.
The Impact on Immigration and Employers
As reported by CBS News, the White House anticipates that the measures will allow for 525,000 additional jobs otherwise held by international workers. Likewise, in the same story, it was reported that the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute “estimates that about 325,000 prospective temporary workers and immigrants could be denied entry through December under the two restrictions.”
Organizations that rely on temporary or international workers indicated that the decision could be harmful both for their own recovery and for the recovery of the national economy.
According to a statement issued by the Information Technology Industry Council—a trade association that represents companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft—the move will negatively impact the immigrants who work in the technology industry. The message said that these individuals “are vital to sustaining promising recovery trends, as well as supporting the United States’ ongoing response to COVID-19.”
Proponents of the measure point out that it’s important to remember that this is scheduled through the end of the year and not a permanent policy. The White House stressed that not only was the proposition instituted to help Americans find work and boost the economy but also that it will be evaluated after 60 days.
According to reporting from The Washington Post, President Trump said that the decision will be in place until “the U.S. labor market has sufficiently improved once the coronavirus crisis subsides.”
What Might Be Next?
As the restrictions just took effect, only time will tell what sort of impact they may have on employers and people looking for work—as well as state and national economies.
There may be additional changes to the H-1B program as well. Though the proclamation is a short-term measure, a CNN story reported that, according to a senior White House official, additional action may be taken to reform the H-1B system “to move in a direction of a more merit-based system.” In essence, it’s one step in a larger vision to reform immigration.
In the meantime, it’s recommended that organizations continue staying on top of current employment news as the pandemic continues to change the country’s economic landscape.
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