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How Employment Visas Could Change Under Trump Administration

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 14, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Immigration attorneys will have more work to do than usual, and not only the sole practitioners fighting for those foreigners yearning to breathe free. Corporate counsel are gearing up for changes that will affect American employers.

During his campaign, Trump said he would crack down on employers who abuse immigration laws to undercut American workers. He cited "outrageous practices" at companies like Disney in Florida "when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements."

"I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program," Trump said last March. "No exceptions."

The H-1B in Silicon Valley

Facebook, and other Silicon Valley employers, are not fans of the president-elect's immigration policy. They rely heavily on foreign workers with H-1B visa classification. In 2014, almost 9 out of 10 of the H-1B visas granted in the U.S. were for workers from India.

The H1-B visa is available to foreign workers who have specialized knowledge and possess at least a bachelor's degree or the equivalent and who are sponsored by a U.S. employer. These visas are capped at 85,000 per year, although nearly 250,000 applications will be made this year.

In response to Trump's attack, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and other tech titans founded to advocate for pro-immigration reform. They contend that reform will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy while creating jobs for Americans. That includes their lawyers.

Waves of Hello and Goodbye

In interviews with the Atlantic, immigration lawyers said they have seen a tenfold increase in calls since the election. Claudia Slovinsky, an immigration and nationality attorney in New York, said people have been reaching out to lawyers because of the uncertain future. Joshua Rolf, an immigration attorney in Philadelphia, has had a similar experience.

"I don't think it's much of a coincidence that in the days following Trump's election that I would receive the only calls I've ever received about Spanish-speaking Latin Americans trying to go to Canada," he said.

Corporate counsel are responding on other fronts, too. Andrew Merrills, a partner at Ogletree Deakins in Raleigh, North Carolina, said Trump's attack on NAFTA could end the act's TN temporary visa and affect many jobs and industries, but especially engineers, accountants, and computer systems analysts.

"The TN is definitely at risk, and that will certainly impact a lot of people," he told Inside Counsel.

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