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Silicon Valley And H1-Bs: What Are They And How Does Trump's Immigrant Stance Affect Them?

Silicon Valley And H1-Bs: What Are They And How Does Trump's Immigrant Stance Affect Them?

President Donald Trump continued his action-packed first week in office last Friday when he issued an executive order instituting a 90-day travel ban restricting citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. In addition, Trump’s order prevents any refugees from entering the United States for at least 120 days and a complete ban on any Syrian nationals as refugees "until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest."

What Is H1-B Visa Employment?

The move blindsided many airport officials and international travelers, and it could have a major impact on U.S. tech companies that rely heavily on H1-B visa employment.

The H1-B visa program allows U.S. companies to hire foreign workers to fill positions that require specialized skills. Trump is already working on an executive order to modify the existing H1-B program. He has repeatedly emphasized his desire for U.S. companies to hire American workers, but companies can have a difficult time finding qualified American workers with experience and skills in specialized science and technology fields.

Silicon Valley's Response

It was already difficult to find many Trump supporters in Silicon Valley prior to the ban. Hillary Clinton received 86 percent of the vote in San Francisco County. However, it’s even tougher these days than it was on election night.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Uber, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Facebook, Inc (NASDAQ: FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Airbnb are among the companies that have publicly questioned or condemned Trump’s travel ban. Airbnb is offering free housing to stranded refugees.

Current Iteration Of The Ban

The travel ban currently impacts citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

“We are advising out clients from those seven countries who have green cards or any type of H-1B visa not to travel outside the U.S.,” Benach Collopy attorney Ava Benach said.

The ban could materially impact the productivity of some of the nation’s largest tech companies. Microsoft alone says it has already been in contact with 76 of its employees from the seven impacted by the ban.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the list of countries impacted by the travel ban could be expanded in the future.

Shares of the Technology SPDR (ETF) (NYSE: XLK) are down 1.0 percent on Monday.

Image Credit: By Gregory Varnum - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Posted-In: Ava BenachNews Politics Management Events Movers Tech General Best of Benzinga


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