Positions and Policies
Immigration Reforms Provide a Boost to High-Skilled Immigration But May Pose Challenges for Employers
President Obama's immigration reform executive action, announced this week, will initiate a number of changes designed to help high-skilled workers remain and work in the United States while raising questions and liability concerns for employers with regard to exactly who is and who is not eligible to work, particularly among low-skilled populations. In his remarks, the President said he would make it "easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed." Though a number of key parts of that plan remain vague and will be determined at a later date through various Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rulemakings, or as part of a forthcoming Presidential "Memorandum on Visa Modernization," a
White House fact sheet
offers some guidance:
DHS will make it easier for high-skilled employees with an approved green card application to move and change jobs, and in certain instances will allow their spouses to work too, rather than leaving both in limbo for years until the green card actually becomes available.
Visa programs for STEM students will be expanded, and DHS will "clarify" the rules governing L-1 visas for foreign workers who transfer from a company's foreign office to its U.S. office.
DHS will work to reduce travel restrictions and other barriers that often keep families apart while applicants wait for their green cards to be processed.
The President will create a White House Task Force on New Americans "to create a federal strategy on immigrant integration," though additional detail is not provided.
Overall, the changes for high-skilled immigrants seem to be mostly around the margins and not a substitute for Congressional action on comprehensive immigration reform. The changes did, however, raise some red flags. A number of major business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation,
issued a statement
earlier this week calling on the President not to take this step, noting that "[f]urther extensions of temporary relief for workers already in the U.S. will make their status more confusing to employers. . . Employers are vulnerable when a current employee comes forward and reveals that he or she has been working for the company under a false identity and asks the employer to provide evidence of his or her employment history in order to take advantage of executive relief." Though such concerns may be addressed in the coming months as the executive action unfolds, large employers are once again on the front lines in domestic policy debates and will bear many of the costs of the adjustment process. Whether Congress will now act in some capacity to defund, reverse, or otherwise impede implementation of the order remains to be seen, with Republican leaders vowing to do all they can to prevent its implementation.
Nov 21, 2014
Gruber Remarks Corroborate Findings in Excise Tax Study, Says Tevi Troy in WSJ Op-Ed
Wall Street Journal
op-ed this week, American Health Policy Institute President Tevi Troy connects the recent flap over MIT economist Jonathan Gruber's remarks to the health care excise tax, which is a prime example of the misleading design of the Affordable Care Act. In his remarks, Gruber observed: "We just tax the insurance companies, they pass on higher prices that offset the tax break we get, it ends up being the same thing. It's a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter." Dr. Troy, whose Institute just published a study entitled
Impact of the Health Care Excise Tax on U.S. Employees and Employers
, noted that "the excise tax will affect an increasing number of workers who don't have top-flight health insurance. By 2031 the cost of the average family health-care plan is expected to hit the excise-tax threshold. The tax's creeping reach is reminiscent of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was originally designed to hit only the wealthiest taxpayers but now nails the middle class." The full op-ed can be accessed
Nov 21, 2014
Nov 21, 2014
Nominee For EEOC General Counsel Leading Charge Against Wellness Programs Narrowly Approved By Senate HELP Committee
Nov 21, 2014
Center Annual Meeting Focuses on the Latest From Investors and Proxy Advisors, SEC Pay Ratio Rules and Peer-Led Discussion of Incentive Plan Design Trends
Nov 21, 2014
DOL Secretary Perez Underscores the Importance of Worker Voice, Workplace Regulations in Ensuring "Shared Prosperity"
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Nov 10, 2014
New Study Finds Excise Tax Will Dramatically Impact Employees
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Business Groups Call for Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (E.O. 13673) to be Withdrawn by the President
Nov 5, 2014
HR Policy Association Urges EEOC to Drop Further Action Against Honeywell Wellness Program
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Oct 14, 2014
HR Executives of America's Large Employers Announce Enhanced Website
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