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Everything You Need to Know About Hiring Foreign Nationals in the Trump Era

Bridge Team Member

Regardless of whetheryou’re new to the game or an old pro, no one knows exactly what hiring foreignnationals is going to look like next month, much less next year. What we doknow is that proceeding with caution is well advised. This doesn’t mean,however, that your business should fearfully bypass hiring valuable foreign-nationaltalent. Arm yourself with the emerging facts, and make informed decisions thatserve your business. 

Foreign Nationals 

Immigrationis always a hot political topic, but the current administration’s influx hasheightened the confusion surrounding hiring foreign nationals. For employmentpurposes, the term foreign national typically refers to a nonimmigrantwho’s obtained employment authorization documents (EAD) through an employer andwho comes to work in America as a foreign citizen. That seems easy enough.

Buy American & Hire American Executive Order 

On April 18, 2017, President Trump executed his BuyAmerican and Hire American Executive Order, which primarily focuses – asfar as “hiring American” goes – on the H-1B program for highly skilledtemporary workers. This order is meant to protect the economic interests ofAmerican workers by rigorously implementing immigration laws and by patrollingfor fraud within employment visa programs, such as the H-1B program. While thisexecutive order is not legislative, it could significantly affect how you hireforeign nationals in the future.   

Executive Order Travel Ban 

TheU.S. Supreme Court partially reinstated President Trump’s secondattempt at a travel ban for six Muslim-majority nations on June 26, 2017. President Trump executedthis executive order in revocation of his original travel ban (for seven Muslim-majoritynations), which was blocked by lower courts on both statutory and constitutionalgrounds. 

Thisis the Supreme Court’s first pass on what has been a highly controversial executive order. TheCourt’s ruling allows the ban to hold for those foreign nationals who areabsent “any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the UnitedStates.” As such, this reinstatement does not affect those foreign nationalemployees who’ve already accepted U.S. employment. Coupled with the HireAmerican Executive Order, however, it does suggest an ambiguous trend regardingthe hiring of foreign nationals

H-1B Visas: Tech CompaniesBeware 

Thevisa designation that relates most directly to American businesses is the H-1B visa program, which applies to nonimmigrant aliens who workin specialized fields (such as technology) and who are sponsored by employers.The intent of the H-1B visa program is to allow qualified foreign nationals towork for U.S. businesses that can’t fulfill their employment needs within theAmerican workforce. 

Techcompanies are especially flummoxed by the current movement in executive ordersand immigration jurisprudence. In fact, these computer-based companiesaccounted for 69 percent of all H-1B visas issued infiscal year 2016.

America’s PotentialSTEM Shortage 

A 2016 American Action Forum studypredicts that, if current occupational trends continue, the U.S. ispoised to face significant labor shortages in occupations involving Science,Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by 2024. If the Trump administration’sendeavors ultimately lead to fewer H-1B visas, the shortages – currently calculatedat 1.1 million – could be even steeper. 

Is It Too Soon? 

It’s probably too soon to know exactly what newly mintedexecutive orders and Court rulings are going to mean for businesses that relyupon employing foreign nationals. When it comes to employment visas, there havealways been plenty of hoops to jump through, and the new administration appearspoised to keep shaking things up. Don’t despair; take a deep breath; follow thelate-breaking employment visa news; and make informed decisions that are rightfor your business.

Should you have any questions about how this impacts your business or employees, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at support@bridge.us.

Disclaimer: This content is not a form of legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for legal counsel. Bridge US encourages readers to discuss any and all immigration-related concerns with an attorney.

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