Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Indranil Mukherjee / Getty

The Department of Homeland Security may end a practice that allows H-1B visas to be extended while the holder's green card is pending, two tech industry sources familiar with the process tell Axios. The possible change is part of President Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" initiatives, as McClatchy DC first reported earlier this week.

Why it matters: This would affect hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who have been working in the U.S. on H-1B visas and have green card applications pending. It would also affect some big tech companies, particularly India-based IT firms that heavily use H-1B visas to fill technical roles.

Background: This comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers work on legislation that would make it more difficult to obtain H-1Bs and the Trump administration considers eliminating the ability for spouses of H-1B holders to work in the U.S.

  • What's happening: DHS is looking at reinterpreting parts of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act, which currently allows H1-B visas to be extended past two three-year terms if they have a green card pending.
  • What's next: A draft of the rule change is expected to be released mid-February when DHS is set to publish new proposed rules in the Federal Register, according to the sources. If this change is implemented, DHS may face legal challenges for not following the formal process for adopting such a proposal, or for exceeding executive or statutory authority, said one tech industry source following the issue. Lawyers representing workers and companies also told McClatchy DC that they expect lawsuits.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wouldn't speak to the report, but told Axios in a statement: "The agency is considering a number of policy and regulatory changes to carry out the President's Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, including a thorough review of employment based visa programs."

By the numbers:

  • There are estimated to be more than a million H1-B holders who are waiting on green cards, Leon Fresco, former deputy assistant attorney general for DOJ, told McClatchy DC, and a vast majority of H-1B holders are Indian tech workers.
  • Because of green card regulations that require that no more than 7% of issued visas go to any one country, hundreds of thousands of India natives working in the U.S. could face wait periods of 15 years or more before receiving a final decision on their green cards.

Reactions: Two major business organizations spoke out against the possible change.

  • "It would be tremendously bad policy to tell highly skilled individuals who are applying for permanent residency and have been working in the U.S. for several years that they are no longer welcome," a U.S. Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said in a statement. "This policy would harm American business, our economy, and the country. Further, it is inconsistent with the goals of a more merit based immigration system,"
  • Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council which represents companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and IBM, said that extending H-1B visas for holders with pending green cards is crucial for the tech industry. In a statement to Axios, he said, "Unnecessarily ending or restricting this system would cause economic disruptions for U.S. businesses – for companies of all sizes and across all industries – that depend on these employees to help fill our very real skills gap at a time when we are trying to ignite economic growth."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.