Big Tech Companies Are Unhappy Over US Visa Freeze on Immigrant Workers

By Adriaan Brits Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Apple, Google, and Amazon and other major US tech companies speak out against the immigrant worker visa freeze.

In mid-June, President Donald Trump signed and released an executive order announcing a freeze on all immigrant work visas and green cards. The decision comes after many states have eased on imposed lockdown regulations, and as the US workforce slowly makes a return to normality. The Trump Administration proclaimed that this decision would save almost 600,000 jobs that can now be filled by American citizens.

This decision wasn’t lightly received by major tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Uber, Twitter, and Box, who are calling the government’s move an “unbelievably bad policy.” Many senior officials have reached out to their followers on social media, stating that this will hurt the US economy even more and prolong its recovery. These companies employ thousands of immigrant workers each year, enabling them to keep a competitive streak among other global tech giants.

A Look at the Visa Ban

The new proclamation is being used as a method to secure jobs in a variety of sectors for American laborers. Working visas — H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1 — will be frozen until the end of the year, suspending foreigner workers from taking up employment in the current economic conditions.

Moreso, the new order will also put a 60-day freeze on green cards until the end of the year, with additional new restrictions covering work visas. Many feel that this move is a way for the White House to curb the influx of foreigners entering the US and taking jobs that can be filled by American citizens.

The Response From Big Tech Companies

Surprisingly enough, a large portion of these companies use international and foreign talent to help advance their systems and keep ahead in an increasingly competitive global market. In 2019, Google and Amazon received successful grants for around 9,000 H1-B visa applications.

Major industry leaders rely heavily on the H1-B visa bracket, as it can offer foreigners the opportunity to work and live in the US for short amounts of time, or perhaps permanently as a “legal working immigrant.”

But, even with newly imposed restrictions, many at Amazon and Alphabet shared that if the government prevents high-skilled immigrants and professionals from entering the US job market, it can put the American recovery strategy at risk.

Sundar Pichia, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet and an immigrant himself, tweeted that the immigrant workforce has largely contributed to the US’s economic prosperity and shaped Google into the company it is today.

The announcement came as a shock to many companies that make use of thousands of immigrant workers. Box founder and CEO Aaron Levie shared that this proclamation will mean more jobs moving outside of the US, which could result in the US losing its ability to be a global leader in technology development.

The Response From Social Media Companies

Twitter's Vice President of Public Policy and Philanthropy for the Americas, Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, as well as a Facebook representative, shared strong opinions opposed to the current proclamation. In their statements, both entities questioned whether this will become a way to curb immigration to the US more permanently. Some critics are also saying that in times of adversity, it’s never a good idea to cut Americans off from the rest of the world.

How Will the Visa Freeze Affect the US Job Market?

Although this new order will secure roughly 525,000 jobs in various sectors and industries, some have shared disapproval, stating it’s a way for the government to impose restrictive immigration policies in the long run.

Furthermore, some critics have claimed that this is also a way for the White House to limit the amount of workers flooding the US each year and further halt the immigration process for foreigners looking to work and live in the US more permanently.

Diversity is one of the US’s greatest assets, but soon the nation may be losing some of its strongest laborers. The new visa freeze won’t affect those already legally working in the US, but the long-term effects may become more imminent in the coming years.

About the Author

Headshot of author Adriaan Brits

As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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