If 2017 is any indication, the new year will bring a fresh cascade of changes – both announced and unannounced, anticipated and unanticipated – in the business immigration landscape. Few, if any, of these changes are expected to be good news for U.S. businesses and the foreign workers they employ.
With an eye towards “increasingly unaffordable” higher education, President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 15, 2017, seeking to “provide more affordable pathways to secure, high paying jobs by promoting apprenticeships and effective workforce development programs, while easing the regulatory burden on such programs and reducing or eliminating taxpayer support for ineffective workforce development programs.” The Executive Order directs the Department of Labor (“DOL”) to propose regulations that “promote the development of apprenticeship programs by third parties,” including trade and industry groups, companies, non-profit organizations, unions, and joint labor-management organizations. The term “apprenticeship” means “an arrangement that includes a paid-work component and an educational or instructional component, wherein an individual obtains workplace-relevant knowledge and skills.” The Executive Order, in effect, seeks to expand the authority of employers and other third parties to design their own apprenticeship programs and tasks the DOL with implementing or rejecting and assessing such programs on an expedited basis.
President Trump has signed an Executive Order to temporarily restrict the admission of all refugees and persons from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The administration’s failure to provide clear guidance to its own agencies on how to implement the order is resulting in inconsistent applications, which are unacceptable to the hundreds of thousands of individuals and U.S. businesses potentially affected by this travel ban.
On July 21, President Obama signed an Executive Order adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories included in Executive Order 11246, originally issued by President Johnson in 1965. E.O. 11246 now prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.