NAICU Washington Update

NAICU to Join Amicus Briefs Challenging New Rules Affecting Foreign Workers

October 30, 2020

NAICU has agreed to join two separate amicus briefs in support of colleges and universities that have sued the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over new interim final rules affecting foreign workers.
Both the DOL and DHS regulations at issue will affect the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program, which allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.  In addition, the H-1B program is important to companies across the country that hire specialists in technology, science, and similar fields.  The program is also important for colleges and universities as many campuses have faculty who are working in the U.S. on H-1B visas.
The rules would affect the current H-1B nonimmigrant visa program in two significant ways.  First, the DOL regulations increase the required wage rates employers have to pay to hire foreign skilled workers. Second, the DHS rules will narrow the definition of a “specialty occupation.” The wage rate has already gone into effect, while the specialty occupation rule will go into effect on December 7, 2020.
The amicus briefs in both cases will underscore the harm that the rules will impose on colleges and universities. Specifically, institutions of higher education emphasize that the new rules will reduce the pool of skilled workers and raise costs on employers. The briefs are expected to be filed as early as October 30.
Several private, nonprofit colleges and universities are plaintiffs in the two lawsuits seeking injunctive relief to prevent the rules from going into effect. The first lawsuit, filed in California, challenges both sets of rules. The second lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., focuses on the DOL regulations only.
As the Trump Administration has pursued an increasingly ambitious regulatory agenda affecting higher education, legal challenges to these policies have mounted, and NAICU and other higher education associations have more frequently weighed in on these cases at the pre-trial level.

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