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Diaspora welcomes court’s decision to overturn ban on H-1B visas

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:33 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Irwine Clare
Irwine Clare

Jamaican immigration advocates and attorneys in the diaspora have welcomed a federal court’s decision overturning a ban in H-1B visas set to be implemented by the Donald Trump administration on December 7.

The immigration advocates described the proposed policy as vengeful.

The Trump administration proposed restricting people coming in on H-1B visas on the basis that such high-paying jobs should be filled by US citizens, given the job losses in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

H-1B visas are usually issued to high-skilled workers in the tech industry, healthcare industry, college and universities and other high-end industries.

Under the Trump administration’s proposal, salary requirements would be imposed on companies employing skilled overseas workers and would set limits on speciality occupations.

As many as one-third of the people who applied for H-1B visas over the years would be denied. The US issues about 85,000 H-1B visas per year. The visas are issued for three years and are renewable.

US District Judge Jeffery White said the government did not follow transparency procedures, and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses did not hold water because the administration had floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.

Head of the Queens-based Caribbean Immigration Services, Irwine Clare, said the court’s decision was good news, especially in light of the pandemic.

He said that the ban would have affected businesses, colleges, universities and the healthcare industry, among others.

Clare said that the ban would have affected Jamaicans who qualify under the programme.

“It is a poison pill amendment. It is part of the vengeful immigration policies of the Trump administration,” said Clare.

He said the United States has always benefited from the H-1B visa programme as it enriches the US economy.

He described it as good news for the people of the Caribbean, including Jamaicans, although he pointed out that the number of Jamaicans who benefit from the programme was not an overly significant amount.

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Florida-based immigration attorney, Wayne Golding Sr, said that the reasoning by the Trump administration for restricting the H-1B visa programme was flawed.

He said that such workers are needed by companies in the United States.

Golding said that while he did not know the exact number of Jamaicans who benefit from the H-1B visa programme, he did know that it was a significant number.

“The impact on Jamaican families would have been severe. Many would have packed to travel to the United states only to have their plans put on hold,” he said.

According to Golding, the ruling is a major relief for thousands of workers. Businesses, he said, would have been harmed.

Golding described the court ruling as a significant one.

“It is not the first time the Trump administration has been slapped down by the courts,” he said.

Michelle Fanger, a Jamaican Florida-based immigration attorney, also welcomed the court’s decision.

She pointed out that when such decisions are made, sometimes the people at the implementation level get the regulations wrong, and this also affects other programmes as applicants are required to submit stringent paperwork which are not necessary.

Fanger pointed to the O-visa programme that entertainers usually use to appear and perform in the United States, noting that the requirements have become entangled with other requirements and these entertainers are asked to produce paperwork which turn out to be unnecessary.

“I hope that the courts will continue to overturn these Trump changes as we go forward,” she said, noting that this will allow things to go back to the way they were.