How Trump’s Executive Order Impacts Hiring, Visas and Immigration

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I spent much of yesterday like many in shock and trying to make sense of what I had seen on social media and the news. There were stories of airport protests, taxi strikes and families unable to be reunited with loved ones because of swift changes to our immigration law. And I went to bed reading a very strange White House press release detailing the removal of the U.S. Attorney General. I’m not here to debate politics. I am here to make sense of all this and talk about how it impacts hiring, visas, employment and immigration issues.

It just so happens that Workology is hosted a webinar on 2/16 discussing H-1B visa changes where we will also made time for discussing how the new executive order as well as future ones will impact the upcoming H-1B visa deadline. We will be providing breaking insights and resources literally up to the minute when the webinar goes live.

Understanding President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

The Executive Order is titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”  Its goal according to the document is to create visa reform especially from those countries that have known terrorists. The ban includes  Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen keeping individuals from these countries from entering the U.S. for a period of 90 days. The was released quickly and the country was expected to begin enforcing swiftly which caused for a great deal of commotion. There were many questions that were not clearly answered in the order including whether those who are legal citizens but are green card holders could enter the country. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a press release late Sunday stating that the order would not affect legal permanent residents, or green card holders. This seemed to clear up some of the confusion but not after Starbucks announced their commitment to hiring 10,000 immigrant workers and many companies in Silicon Valley who are focused on helping not just raise awareness but focus on a solution.

Companies Reeling Over Immigration Executive Order

Here are a list of companies that have publicly committed to the cause:

  • More than 2,000 of Google’s employees staged a walkout in their offices in protest of the ban
  • Lyft will donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years
  • #DeleteUber campaign started after Uber made announcement about eliminating surge fees to JFK airport over weekend
  • Airbnb has offered free housing to anyone impacted by the travel ban
  • Viber is offering free calls between the U.S. and the countries targeted by the travel ban

A number of other companies have come out and expressed their concern with the changes. However, most organizations like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Box are focused on providing information, resources and support for employees who are impacted by the executive order.

How This Impacts Hiring, Employment and HR

The executive order not only raises a lot of employment concerns but it also hints at a second executive order specifically targeting the L and H-1B visas. Some websites are suggesting that the second executive order will be released later this week. Even without the second executive order, hiring and HR is still impacted.

  • Traveling to the U.S. is now more complex. This is the understatement of the year. My assumption is that this ban will allow for new procedures to be unveiled for individuals who wish to enter the country legally to go through. I also assume that the process to enter the country especially if from one of the countries mentioned above will be more involved. There will likely be a creation of a visitor database that provides more in-depth information about travels as well as a fingerprint or other identification requirement.
  • New requirements for work visas will be announced soon. Originally, I had stated that there would be no changes in H-1B visas this year because we are only two months away from the visa deadline. I was and am wrong. There are a number of whispers around the internet of a second executive order being released later this week that will go into more detail on the subject of work visas including green cards, and H-1B visas that very well might impact the 2017 Visa submission process and lottery for H-1B.
  • Hiring will become longer and more complex. If visa numbers become even more limited in numbers, finding the right talent especially for those hard to fill roles will take longer and cost more money. Employers will need to fully explore other options some of which I’m mentioning below.
  • Companies will look at visa alternatives. Common practices include setting up offices and business locations in other countries outside of the U.S. in part due to the executive order and proposed changes that are forthcoming. This is an option, however, like visas setting up a business in another country takes time. I believe this is something companies will be doing more of in the coming months and years.
  • Retaining your STEM talent will become even more important. This also goes without saying. It’s always been important but the tightening of and changing of visa programs will make retention more important than ever.
  • Focusing on training and development of employees and future candidates. Companies will be investing in talent paying for employee college or training for specialized fields or looking at developing on the job training programs for U.S. permanent resident and eligible workers.

Communicate to Your Employees Who Have Visas  Immediately

Build and execute a communication plan for employees not only who have ties to the restricted countries but everyone who is employed by you that is on a visa or has a green card. This means a nicely worded email from the CEO and ongoing communication from HR and managers on how the organization is monitoring the situation. This is critical to keeping the fear and misinformation at bay.

Resources and Experts to Watch

If there’s one thing I am not is an attorney. I’ve spent the better part of 2 days reasons hundreds of articles and having a number of conversations with really smart people including some of the best immigration attorneys.

  • Jon Velie. I’ve known Jon for 7 years having first met him on a plane ride. Jon has just finished authoring a book and is just published a concise article on his blog that provides some nice insights into the executive order. Click here.
  • SHRM’s coverage of the executive order. If there is one thing that SHRM is good at, it’s keeping information focused on the issue without veering off into politics. Here’s one article of several that provides access to valuable resources for HR and talent acquisition professionals. Click here.
  • Jason Finkelman. Jason is a regular contributor to this site. He is an immigration attorney in Austin and recently published a nice wrap up on LinkedIn that offers some good suggestions in terms of accelerating any immigration plans you may have. Click here.
  • National news media coverage. This story is all over the media making it extremely hard to really understand what is happening and getting to the bottom and heart of the matter. The Atlantic had one of the best pieces written that discusses the executive order and implications that isn’t filled with legal speak and easy to read. Click here. Bloomberg has had great coverage as well. Click here.
  • Visit our immigration resources. The subject of immigration is one that I have been watching closely since before the presidential election. We will continue to cover it here as it impacts the global HR and workplace industry in unprecedented ways. Click here.

What does all this mean for the employment and jobs markets? How quickly will visa changes in the second executive order go into effect? These are questions I can’t yet answer, however, I have included a copy of the proposed executive order included below and as soon as I have more information, I’ll be sharing what I can.

Trump’s Next Executive Order for Immigration by Jessica Miller-Merrell on Scribd

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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