Trump blocked from restricting visas used by high-skill workers

There are approximately 580,000 foreign workers with H-1B visas in specialised jobs in the US, according to the suit.
There are approximately 580,000 foreign workers with H-1B visas in specialised jobs in the US, according to the suit.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The Trump administration was blocked from restricting H-1B visas that highly skilled foreign technology workers rely on to work in the US.

The ruling conflicts with a pair of decisions in September in similar cases.

US District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, agreed with several big US business groups, which argued President Donald Trump exceeded his authority by imposing the immigration restrictions.

The order, at odds with the conclusion reached by a federal judge in Washington, means the fight will likely move to an appeals court.

Mr Trump declared in a June proclamation that foreign workers pose a threat to the US labour market amid the downturn caused by coronavirus pandemic.

His decree froze new H-1B and H-4 visas, used by technology workers and their families, as well as L visas for intracompany transfers and most J visas for work- and study-abroad programmes, including au pairs, through the end of the year.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation sued to block the restrictions, saying they impede the hiring of engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other critical workers who help drive the American economy.

The Chamber is a longtime supporter of high-skilled immigration and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or Daca, which provides legal status for some migrants who entered the country as children.

There are approximately 580,000 foreign workers with H-1B visas in specialised jobs in the US, according to the suit.

 
 

Almost 160,000 L visas were issued in 2019 for executives, managers and employees with special experience and their dependents, and about 300,000 exchange visitors enter the US annually on J visas, the Chamber said.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is among the companies that have expressed support for a court order blocking Mr Trump's policy.