Biggest U.S. tech companies and organizations bat for H-1B

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Leading Silicon Valley companies have joined the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as the National Retail Federation and others in a case challenging the suspension of the H-1B skilled worker visa and other similar and related visas. They are calling for a preliminary injunction to prevent the suspension.

The case is scheduled to be heard Sept. 11, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern California by Judge Jeffrey S. White.

The amicus brief opposes the administration’s proclamation signed by President Trump on June 20, 2020, temporarily stopping foreign nationals from coming to the U.S. to work until December end or longer “as necessary” the decades-old nonimmigrant visa programs, including H-1B visas for high-skill specialty occupations, an overwhelming majority of which are used by Indians, H-2B visas for nonagricultural workers, and L-1 visas for intracompany transfers.

The purported ground for the suspension is “to protect unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs” amidst “economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak” notes the amicus brief filed by 52 companies that include Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, Adobe, to name just a few. These are joined by organizations like Software Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, and the Semiconductor Industry Association.

These companies contend that the law requires the President to show that his actions will further “interests of the United States,” which they say it will not.

They describe the suspension ‘indiscriminate” and describe the visas as “crucial” non-immigrant visa programs.

They argue that “the suspension of these vital nonimmigrant visa programs will stifle innovation, hinder growth, and ultimately harm U.S. workers, businesses, and the economy more broadly in irreparable ways,” according to the wordings contained in the Amicus brief filed, a copy of which is available on the Web. (Amicus-Brief-of-Leading-Companies-and-Business-Organizations.pdf).

Collectively, these businesses and organizations, the court brief says, “have hundreds of thousands of employees and members across the country, and represent hundreds of billions of dollars in annual economic activity.”

The companies and organizations in the Amicus brief point to their “extensive experience” with employment-based visas, including the H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 programs recently suspended by the President, and say they include some of the greatest beneficiaries of those programs.

These employers and organizations, “have experienced firsthand the benefits of these programs for their companies, their employees, and the U.S. economy more broadly,” they assert.

The action by the administration will do “irreparable harms” they add.

In their argument, they note how for decades, U.S. businesses have welcomed thousands of highly-skilled and motivated workers from abroad to work temporarily in the United States through non-immigrant visa programs established by Congress.

These initiatives “help drive American growth and innovation by attracting the world’s best talent,” they say, including engineers, doctors, bankers, biomedical researchers, software developers, and tech executives, at a time when the global contest to attract skilled workers is increasingly competitive.

“The programs have been an unequivocal success, earning praise from presidents of both political parties. They are widely understood as benefitting not only U.S. companies and the foreign workers they employ, but also domestic wage earners, families, communities, and the American economy more broadly.”

According to the Administration’s own estimates, the President’s actions will prevent more than half a million work-authorized individuals from coming to the United States by year’s end and according to experts, prevent roughly 20,000 employers from filling positions during that same period, the amicus brief states.

The proclamation as it pertains especially to H-1B and L-1, the companies say would result in “stifling the ability of U.S. businesses to attract the world’s best talent, drive innovation, and further American economic prosperity.”

The amici especially hone in on the H-1B visa in their brief, a visa which has been in existence since 1952, with numerical limits placed on it since 1990.

“Today it is most commonly associated with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines,” which are at the core of a modern economy, they emphasize.

Accordingly, these companies argue that across many sectors and areas of the country they employ H-1B visa holders in many capacities, including as operation research analysts, software engineers, database architects, system analysts, and scientists directly engaged in research and development of all types.

“These individuals are central to the daily operation and continued growth of American businesses across industries,” they argue.

And quoting studies by experts they argue “research overwhelmingly shows that these “H-1B visa holders do not adversely affect U.S. workers” but rather benefit them, as the H-1B program “increases innovation, productivity and profits at H-1B employers and boosts total productivity and innovation in the United States,” as well as “employment among other workers in an occupation.”

Already global competitors in Canada, China, and India, among others, are pouncing at the opportunity to attract well-trained, innovative individuals, the companies and organizations filing the amicus say.

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