BIG TECH PUSHES FOR ADDITIONAL IMMIGRATION PROTOCOL TO BE ADDED TO THE CHIPS AND SCIENCE ACT IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL SECURITY
Three months ago, Congress passed the Chips and Science Act, which aims to attract foreign STEM workers to the United States to help reinvest in the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and increase scientific research. While this is a step in the right direction, Big Tech leaders want to see more tangible follow-up immigration action, such as the inclusion of an immigration proposal in the national defense policy bill. Advocates argue that while the CHIPS and Science Act provides a strong backbone, concrete changes to the visa caps and increased, competitive salaries for these foreign workers are necessary. Those pushing for these new protocols to be implemented contend that national defense and STEM related immigration are intrinsically linked and that foreign workers are necessary to help protect the U.S. in the age of growing worldwide unrest.
THE UNITED STATES IS LOSING SKILLED H-1B WORKERS AND SPOUSES DUE TO RIGID REGULATIONS
In 2015, the Obama administration passed regulations that granted work authorization to H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B petitioners, but only those who have received an approved I-140. As such, this grant only applies to a small subsect of all H-1B spouses. The limited scope of this regulation leaves a significantly untapped workforce while disadvantaging the United States in comparison to countries such as Canada, where all spouses of all skilled foreign workers are automatically granted employment authorization. Data from the American Community Survey for the years 2017-2019 estimates that almost 90% of the spouses of H-1B visa holders have at least a bachelor's degree, nearly half have graduate degrees of which a significant portion are STEM related. To remedy this, USCIS should make work authorization for H-4 dependent spouses “incident to status,” as it is for spouses of L-1, E-1, E-2 and E-3 visa holders.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS URGES FOR CRUCIAL IMMIGRATION SOLUTIONS TO WORKFORCE REALITIES
It is no surprise that manufacturing is a sector of the economy that is heavily intertwined with immigration. For decades, immigrants have played a crucial role in strengthening manufacturing processes in the United States. Now, manufacturers have joined in the call to reform certain fundamental nonimmigrant visa and temporary worker programs to increase employment-based immigration. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons pressed DHS secretary Mayorkas to reduce the visa backlog to ensure that the manufacturing industry can operate effectively and resourcefully and combat the current workforce crisis. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the visa backlog is being reduced at speeds faster than anticipated, but eliminating the backlog alone will not provide the fix that is necessary.
DHS'S FINAL RULE FOR LIMITED IMPLEMENTATION OF DACA GOES INTO EFFECT
The last few weeks have been quite tense for DACA recipients, as litigation arguing for the dismantling of the program received national spotlight and the future remained uncertain. However, on October 31st, 2022, DHS issued a final rule in an attempt to preserve and fortify the program. The final rule provides only temporary protection for DACA, which for the first time is being codified in formal regulation. Under the final rule, current DACA recipients' deferred action, employment authorization, and advance parole will continue to be recognized. Unfortunately, the DACA program still lacks a meaningful pathway to citizenship, as being a recipient alone does not serve as a form of lawful status. While recipients are protected from deportation under the Act, the Act merely delineates recipients as “lawfully present” in the United States. At this time, USCIS will continue to accept initial DACA requests but will not process new applications. Therefore, while the final rule issued by DHS is a comforting step, it will take Congress swiftly passing legislation to provide Dreamers with permanent protection.