Yesterday, Stanford joined with universities, businesses and research organizations in a lawsuit challenging U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rules that would make drastic changes to the H-1B visa program.

“The H-1B visa program is vital – it allows foreign scientists, medical professionals, artists and others to come to the U.S. to work in fields where there are shortages of specialized workers,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “These misguided rule changes would significantly limit the program, with serious consequences not only for the H-1B visa holders themselves but for the institutions and communities that rely on their knowledge and talent.”

The rules, published on Oct. 8, would substantially restrict, if not outright eliminate, the H-1B visa program. The DOL rule, which is effective immediately, would so greatly increase the amount that must be paid to new or extended foreign workers on the H-1B visa that in many cases it would be prohibitively expensive for employers to hire them. The DHS rule limits the categories of workers who qualify for H-1B visas or renewal of those visas, reducing the number of H-1B positions by at least one-third. The lawsuit seeks to prevent these draconian changes, which are of great public concern, without the Departments going through the normal and legally required process of first publishing the rule and giving an opportunity for public comment.

The new rules would limit the Stanford positions that are eligible for H-1B visas and in many cases would make it economically infeasible to hire the much needed skilled people who might still be eligible for a visa. It could affect the approximately 630 members of the Stanford community – primarily researchers – who are here on H-1B visas, as well as 85 H-1B visa holders at SLAC. It would also affect about 80 people who are in the process of applying for and attaining H-1B visas to work at Stanford.

“Stanford and the nation benefit tremendously from the work of H-1B visa holders who come from around the world,” said Tessier-Lavigne. “We are committed to fighting this rule, and we will continue to advocate for immigration policies that support our international students and scholars and advance the exchange of people and ideas around the world.”