State Department issues guidance on visa applicants after federal judge issues injunction

Published on
October 19, 2020

The U.S. State Department has issued new guidance for certain individuals applying for H-2B and other temporary worker visas after a federal judge in California issued an injunction against the Trump Administration earlier this month.

For H-2B applicants, individuals must be prepared to show that their employer is a member of one of the following trade associations: the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, TechNet, and Intrax, Inc.

Those groups filed the lawsuit against the administration on 21 July, a month after President Trump issued his order suspending several work visa programs due to the abnormally high unemployment rate in the U.S. brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White said that the administration’s viewpoint that visa workers were taking jobs away from Americans didn’t match current circumstances. In some cases, the order prevented companies from filling jobs because companies haven’t been able to find Americans willing to work them.

“Although its stated purpose is to aid the domestic economy by providing job opportunities for United States citizens, the Proclamation completely disregards both economic reality and the preexisting statutory framework,” the judge wrote. “Furthermore, without any consideration of the impact on American firms and their business planning, the Proclamation abruptly changed the scope of immigration policy in the United States.”

The news may not necessarily be good news for seafood processors who rely on H-2B visa workers to fill vital jobs during fishing season. Trump’s order included an exemption for companies considered essential, and food processors have been deemed as such.

H-2B jobs are considered non-agricultural positions, and White’s order now opens the visa program back up for such businesses as landscapers and resorts.

H-2B visas are currently capped at 66,000 annually, although lawmakers in Congress have called on the government to raise that limit.  

Photo courtesy of Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

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