ACE, Higher Ed Groups Submit Amicus Briefs Opposing New H-1B Visa Rules
November 02, 2020

​​ACE and 23 other higher education associations filed two briefs Friday supporting a pair of legal challenges to new Trump administration rules restricting H-1B visas for highly skilled workers. The briefs express deep concern about the rules themselves, which are designed to effectively dismantle the H-1B program, and about how they were put forward without notice or the opportunity to respond-.

The departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled the new restrictions on Oct. 8. The DOL rule, which was effective immediately, will result in significantly higher government prevailing wage minimums for foreign professional workers, while the DHS rule introduces stricter eligibility criteria for H-1B specialty occupations and places new restrictions on H-1B workers at third-party worksites, among its provisions. The DHS rule is set to go into effect Dec. 7, 2020.

The two lawsuits assert that the regulations will affect hundreds of thousands of American-based workers and disrupt employers’ ability to hire and retain critical high-skilled talent. They also will have enormous budgetary implications for colleges and universities at a time when institutions are buckling under billions in increased costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colleges and universities rely on tens of thousands of H-1B visa holders to fill crucial positions for their campus communities: faculty, researchers, physicians, scholars, residents, fellows, and professional staff, in the areas of medicine, science, engineering, and many others. Yet, as has become all too common under the current administration, DOL and DHS did not give those affected an opportunity to share the impact these rules will have—as required by the federal Administrative Procedure Act—or to prepare in any way for the dramatic changes being forced on them overnight.

The ACE-led amicus briefs support requests made to the district courts for the District of Columbia and the Northern District of California, where the cases were filed, to issue injunctions against the rules. As the briefs explain, if the rules are not blocked, critical scientific research programs will be left with unfilled positions, academic medical centers will be left with provider shortages and longer patient wait times, and universities’ educational missions will be irreparably disrupted. Instructors could be forced to leave midway through courses, colleges would have to scramble to recruit and train new employees, and students could be forced to alter their chosen courses of study.

A number of leading universities also filed a brief supporting the legal challenge in California, as did nearly 46 U.S. companies and business organizations, including tech giants Apple, Google, Twitter, and Facebook.

A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 13 in the DC case (which involves the DOL rule) and for Nov. 23 in the California case (which involves both rules). In the interim, the federal government will submit papers to both courts opposing the motions, and the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to reply to them.​