Apple and Twitter have joined the ranks of tech companies decrying the abrupt halt on a range of guest worker visas proclaimed yesterday by President Trump. The new restrictions would fall particularly hard on H-1B visas, which are often used by tech companies to hire foreign workers without engaging a traditional immigration process.
Capped at 80,000 visas nationally, the program is highly competitive, although it remains controversial for keeping workers’ immigration status tied to their ongoing employment. A recent US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) survey found that tech companies accounted for roughly two-thirds of the total visas granted under the designation.
In a statement on Twitter, Apple CEO Tim Cook emphasized the benefits both his company and the nation at large have reaped from immigration.
Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream. There is no new prosperity without both. Deeply disappointed by this proclamation.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 23, 2020
Twitter also joined the chorus, calling the proclamation “short-sighted” and “deeply damaging.”
"Unilaterally and unnecessarily stifling America’s attractiveness to global, high-skilled talent is short-sighted and deeply damaging to the economic strength of the United States." —@jesirae— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 22, 2020
A number of former H-1B recipients in the tech community have also come forward about their personal connection to the program. Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng said the order “will shatter dreams and disrupt lives.”
“As a former H1B visa holder,” Ng continued, “my heart goes out to all the families affected.”
Instituted as a response to skyrocketing unemployment, Trump’s order primarily curtails the issuing of new work visas, so visitors whose H-1B status has already been approved shouldn’t be affected, although it may affect H1-B holders currently outside the country. However, the proclamation also leaves significant leeway to individual consular officers, who will have broad discretion in choosing whether to issue a visa to an individual applicant.