US judge blocks Donald Trump’s H-1B visa ban

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Washington: In a major relief to thousands of Indian IT professionals, a federal judge in the United States (US) blocked Thursday the enforcement of a temporary visa ban by the Trump administration. The ban was on a large number of work permits, including the most sought after H-1B visas. US District Judge Jeffrey White said in a ruling that the president exceeded his constitutional authority.

The order issued by Judge White of Northern District of California applies to members of organisations that filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security. The ruling places an immediate hold on a series of damaging visa restrictions that prevent manufacturers from filling crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when most needed, the National Association of manufacturers said.

Trump had issued an executive order in June that had put temporary bar on issuing of new H-1B visas. The H-1BG visas are widely used by major American and Indian technology companies. Among other visas, where restriction were put were the H-2B visas are for nonagricultural seasonal workers, ‘J’ visas for cultural exchanges and ‘L’ visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations till the end of the year.

The president had argued that the US needs to save and protect jobs for its domestic work force.A number of IT companies and other US companies and those representing them had voiced their opposition to it.

Manufacturers went to court to challenge the administration’s ban on certain visas because the restrictions both undermined the industry at a critical time and conflicted with the law, said NAM senior vice-president and general counsel Linda Kelly.

“We are competing with the rest of the world to find and develop top talent to support innovation in our industry. Today’s decision is a temporary win for manufacturers committed to building that innovation in the United States,” Kelly said.

“A long-term win for manufacturers requires policymakers to support meaningful reforms to our immigration laws that recognise the critical link between smart immigration policy and America’s competitive advantage,” Kelly added.

In his order, the federal judge said that the president exceeded his authority. “Congress’s delegation of authority in the immigration context…does not afford the president unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners. Such a finding would render the president’s Article II powers all but superfluous,” Judge White wrote in his 25-page order.

The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.