Date November 2, 2020
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Brown joins legal brief to block new visa rules, citing negative impact on international workers

New federal rules on H-1B visa eligibility would irreparably harm research and teaching at universities and are fundamentally unfair to individuals who have relied on existing immigration law, amicus brief argues.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University and 24 other colleges, universities and academic medical centers are urging a court to prevent the federal government from implementing new rules that would restrict H-1B visa eligibility.

Filed in a U.S. District Court case in California, the amicus brief argues that new visa rules from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor would irreparably harm the ability of universities and academic medical centers to employ highly skilled foreign workers in a broad range of fields. The rules, which would substantially restrict who will be eligible for visas, will disrupt teaching and high-impact research at universities that rely on the expertise and talents of skilled international workers.

“The new rules will negatively impact workers who, through the research universities and academic medical centers that employ them, provide critical contributions to the research that drives our nation’s scientific progress, public health and economic vitality,” the brief argues. “Among other fields, these workers are performing research on Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, COVID-19, diabetes, heart disease, malaria, vision loss and many others. They also are valuable members of amici’s teaching staff, educating our nation’s students so they can go on to be, themselves, highly skilled and productive members of society.”

The brief was filed in support of a lawsuit filed by an array of business and higher education institutions, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, Cornell University and the University of Southern California. The case, Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al., asks the court to block the implementation of the rules.

The new federal rules would substantially restrict eligibility for new H-1B visas, render many current visa holders ineligible for visa renewal and narrow the pool of skilled international workers able to be hired by universities, the brief argues:

“The DOL Rule drastically increases the prevailing wage levels that employers are required to pay to skilled foreign workers employed under the affected visa programs. If not enjoined, the Rule will force colleges and universities across the country to substantially narrow the group of potential candidates to fill critical current and future positions, impede pending renewals and require schools to revisit hiring decisions, or otherwise increase wages to arbitrary, unsustainable rates—all of which impair amici’s ability to carry out funded research critical for national security, health, and economic competitiveness.”

The new rules would also harm foreign workers who would typically hold H-1B status while awaiting lawful permanent residence status in the United States.

The rules are “fundamentally unfair to the individuals and their families who have relied upon decades of well-settled immigration law to contribute to the betterment of our society through their scholarship and research in the United States,” the brief argues.

Brown’s participation in the amicus brief extends a track record of support and advocacy for international students and scholars, who are essential contributors to teaching and research, and to the innovation, economic vitality and competitiveness of the nation as a whole.

The brief’s signatories include Brown, Boston University, Brandeis University, the Catholic University of America, Columbia University, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, Dartmouth College, Emory University, the George Washington University, Grinnell College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Mount Sinai Health System and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York University, Northeastern University, the Pennsylvania State University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Tufts University, the University of Chicago, University of Connecticut, University of Pennsylvania, Wellesley College, and Yale University.

The amicus brief is available on Brown’s Office of General Counsel website.