Federal judge halts Trump's H-1B visa rules

The tech industry relies heavily on the visas, which are issued to highly skilled foreign workers.

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A federal judge on Tuesday struck down two Trump administration rules issued in October meant to restrict H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers. In a 23-page order, US District Judge Jeffrey White said the administration failed to show "good cause" for issuing the rules on an emergency basis, bypassing a customary comment period.

The technology industry relies heavily on H-1B visas. About three-quarters of 85,000 allotted H-1B visas each year go to people who work in tech. 

The Trump administration had argued that the rules, which fall under the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security, needed to be issued quickly because of unemployment spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. The Labor Department rule, which went into effect in October, raised the minimum salaries employers were required to pay H-1B workers. While the Homeland Security rule, which was set to take effect this month, would've required foreign workers to have a degree in the "specialty occupation" they apply for -- as opposed to any college degree.

The ruling comes in a lawsuit led by the US Chamber of Commerce and joined by Stanford and other universities and businesses.

"This ruling has many companies across various industries breathing a huge sigh of relief today," Jon Baselice, executive director of immigration policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, said in an emailed statement. "Both of these rules had the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the operations of many businesses."

The Trump administration could appeal the ruling. 

The Department of Labor directed our request for comment to the Department of Justice, which didn't immediately respond. The Department of Homeland Security didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.