Witness Post: H-1B

At the risk of adding another stone to the scales of injustice in this country, here is one that makes no sense. President Trump and his Block-All-Immigrants-From-Entering-This-Country stance started with his campaign pledge to build an unscalable WALL. He and his entourage, visited that wall in Yuma, Arizona today (June 23, 2020). Now he wants to make the immigration hurdles even higher. And he will be taken to court over these suspensions.

Trump’s latest proclamation (issued Monday, June 22) suspends issuing a variety of Visa’s that allow foreigners to work in the US for limited periods of time. The Visa’s affected are H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1’s. The administration claims that the restrictions were necessary to protect 525,000 American workers. With the coronavirus pandemic, already making unemployment the highest level in decades, the proclamation is even more ludicrous. at a time when the pandemic has pushed unemployment to its highest level in decades.

The order extends an existing freeze on green cards until the end of the year, and adds the new restrictions covering work Visas. Tech companies, like Intel and Microsoft, rely on H-1B visas to attract talented engineers from around the world. The access to this global talent has been a competitive advantage to the US over the years. Last year, Google and Amazon were each granted roughly 9,000 H-1B Visa applications.

The one I know best is the H-1B version. In the US we have 85,000 “high-skilled” positions for H-1B Visa’s open each year. Trump’s moratorium will force these candidates to go elsewhere for employment. These moratoria are ludicrous. They impact students, college grads, foreign nationals, and businesses across the country.

The non-partisan Migration Policy Institute estimates that the suspensions would block fewer than 400,000 foreign citizens: 158,000 seeking permanent immigration via green cards, plus 167,000 who would enter with work Visas, including 29,000 H-1B workers and 19,000 spouses and children on H-4 Visas accompanying them.[1] The freeze on green cards proves unequivocally how tone-deaf this administration to the clamoring for diversity in our country. Trump wants to block some of the best and the brightest and their families from helping our tech companies fill their offers with talent from across the globe. These men and women are poised to help pull this country, speedily, from the depths of our recession.

My continued dissatisfaction at the current administration comes from some scar tissue that I gained, when trying to recruit and keep a key hire at a firm where I worked. In 2006, one of the top immigration law firms helped us gain a Visa so we could recruit  a gifted academic from Oxford University to join us in the Northwest. To say that this scholar was anything short of remarkable would be a mistake. Nonetheless, getting him into our country for gainful employment proved extraordinarily difficult. His name is Peter Johnson.[2] There are few people on the planet with more experience in his field of expertise, or three masters and a doctorate from Oxford and Stanford. A full version of his pre-hire bio is below.

Join in the Visa clamor with the Tech CEO’s at Apple, UBER, SalesForce.com, Facebook and all of the tech companies who have elevated the talent in the American workforce. At a time when we need the strength of racial diversity and global understanding more than ever, lend your voice to another cause.


[1] https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/23/h-1b-minimal-effects-expected-from-trumps-visa-suspensions-green-card-freeze/

Dr Peter Johnson - Exeter College

[2] Dr. Peter Johnson, MA DPhil Oxford, MA MBA Stanford 

Dr. Johnson studied Physics and Philosophy at Oxford and Philosophy of Science at Stanford, before becoming a strategy consultant. He worked for Bain & Company until he took his MBA at Stanford, and then joined the founding group at LEK, where he became a partner, setting up the practice in France. He spent many years advising large multinational companies in Europe, the US, Australia and South Africa. In the early 1990’s he returned to Oxford and earned a doctorate in the Philosophy of Physics, while helping to set up and organize the Said Business School. As a Fellow of Balliol College, he helped design key elements of the MBA program. He regularly taught classes and tutorials in Management to undergraduates. In 1999 he transferred to Exeter as a Tutorial Fellow and Director of Corporate Affairs at SBS. There he researched alternative valuation measures and published a slew of studies. His growing involvement in entrepreneurship led him to set up VentureFest, a fair for technology startups, to assist many Internet businesses, and to become a director of a number of university spin outs at Oxford, Cambridge and other universities. Twice Dr. Johnson took on the role of Finance & Estates Bursar at Exeter, transforming the College’s approach to investment and supervising the establishment of a Development Office. His knowledge of investment also allowed him to act as an advisor to a number of private offices and hedge funds. In 2007 he completed his second book, Astute Competition, and then switched his published research focus to the theoretical foundations of competitive strategy and taxonomy of business models.