Court vacates new rules that sought to restrict H-1B visas

Today, a U.S. District Court judge struck down new Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security rules that would have restricted the H-1B visa program. Stanford had joined with other universities, businesses and research organizations in a legal challenge to the new rules in October.

“We are pleased that the court agrees that these rule changes would have had harmful effects on both H-1B visa holders and the communities that rely on them,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “We are gratified that current H-1B visa holders will be able to stay without disruption to their work and that we can continue to bring highly specialized workers to the United States to work in fields where their skills are greatly needed.”

Taken together, the two rules would have substantially restricted the H-1B visa program. The DOL rule would have made it prohibitively expensive, in many cases, for employers to hire workers with H-1B visas. The DHS rule sought to limit the categories of workers who qualify for H-1B visas, reducing the number of H-1B positions by at least one-third. Today’s decision vacates both rules.

In its decision, the court quoted the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States, writing that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the nation’s health and the personal finances of millions of Americans, “[t]he history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here. The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration. With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation’s meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse.”