December 7, 2020

Judges Side With Business Groups On Visa Programs

In response to a challenge from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), on December 1 a federal judge from the Northern District of California set aside two federal agency rules that would have limited visas issued under the H1-B program.

The decision is available here.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a basis for engaging in emergency rulemaking, in October the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had issued a pair of interim final rules that would have made significant changes to the visa program and prevented manufacturers from using them effectively. (Connecting the Dots reported on the rulemakings earlier this fall.)

The DOL rule was implemented on October 8 and the DHS rule was to go into effect on December 7, but last week’s ruling means the regulations are no longer viable unless another court overturns the ruling.

Also last week: a federal judge in the District of Columbia issued an order validating the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program.

That decision is here.

Business groups supported this program because it will provide a crucial talent pipeline that will allow manufacturers to recruit and retain recent graduates of U.S. universities trained in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A legal challenge brought by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers had sought to invalidate the program.