Posted on October 2, 2020

Judge Partially Blocks Trump Administration from Enforcing Visa Ban

Michelle Hackman, Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2020

A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its ban against many of the biggest U.S. companies bringing in foreign workers under H-1B and other employment-based visas.

The ruling applies to workers for companies represented by the plaintiffs in the suit: the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and TechNet.


The temporary ban, which Mr. Trump issued in June, bars foreigners on H-1B or other work visas from coming to the U.S. through the end of this year or longer, should the president extend it. Mr. Trump said he took the step to safeguard unemployed Americans, who could take jobs not filled by foreigners.


The H-1B visa is an employment-based visa for highly skilled workers. The administration has argued that the coronavirus pandemic requires limits on immigration to prevent sick people from entering the country and to ensure that Americans get jobs first as the economy rebounds.

Mr. Trump likely exceeded his authority in issuing the ban, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California wrote in his opinion.


In addition to H-1B visas, the suit applied to H-2B visas for short-term seasonal workers in landscaping and other nonfarm jobs; J-1 visas for short-term workers including camp counselors and au pairs; and L-1 visas for internal company transfers.

The decision is particularly significant for prospective H-1B visa holders working at the impacted companies, as the government issues about 85,000 new ones on Oct. 1, the start of each fiscal year. Mr. Trump specifically extended the order past October to ensure these new visa holders wouldn’t be able to come and start new jobs in the U.S., his advisers said at the time.

The suit didn’t seek to block an earlier ban Mr. Trump announced in April, which bars family members of Americans and some work-based green-card holders from entering the U.S.