Ten Americans kept their jobs today in spite of USCIS, which seemed intent on ensuring that those jobs go overseas or just go away.
What happened? USCIS had refused to extend the L-1 status of a multinational manager, who had opened a new office and employed ten U.S. workers, finding that a small company could not possibly need a manager. Faced with this decision, the company had four choices: move to another country (and take those ten jobs with it); close down altogether (extinguishing those ten jobs altogether); appeal (which, given the nearly two years that that process takes, effectively would be one of the first two choices); or go through the costly, duplicative and time-consuming process of obtaining an E visa from the U.S. consulate in his home country. Though tempted to take the first option, this business leader was not ready to give up on the U.S., and instead took the fourth option. And the State Department did what USCIS would not: ensured the future of those jobs by granting the visa.
Money that could have been invested in further building the business was instead invested in preparing the E visa and traveling abroad for the interview to obtain it. While the AILA member who represented him was happy to have the fees, he’d rather have had a sensible adjudication of the L-1 extension.
This is not an economy in which we can afford to throw away jobs. And, while our immigration laws need fixing in many fundamental ways, there is a fair amount of sense in some of the rules, including those that have long governed the migration of multinational managers. But those rules need to be followed. Certainly, adjudicators are only human, and are undoubtedly responding to unemployment figures and concerns. But those responses overlook the macro-economics of immigration: it’s not a zero sum of immigrant equals job loss. Quite the opposite: study after study has shown that immigrants contribute to the economy. This is not counter-intuitive: this one L-1 plainly equaled ten U.S. jobs. There’s thousands more like him.
But where is USCIS? Senator Grassley has made a fuss about agency “whistleblowers” who decry the agency’s leadership urging a bit more generosity in adjudications. And certainly that generosity has not been forthcoming: if anything, adjudications continue to reflect a growth-killing stinginess. Is the problem entrenched biases? Lack of training? Lack of clear guidance? Some combination of all these factors? Whatever the problem, it needs to end here and now.
America cannot afford it any longer.