Trump’s latest immigration order reaches the payments industry

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The Trump administration is accelerating its restrictions on immigration, including a ban on skilled workers that will make it harder for fintechs to hire people from outside the U.S.

Trump’s executive order ties the restriction to the impact of the coronavirus, and includes H-1B visas and L-1 visas that often cover technology workers such as programmers and engineers.

“It has affected us. And not even H-1B. But L-1, which should be simpler to obtain,” said Chen Amit, co-founder and CEO of Tipalti, a San Mateo, Calif.-based firm that processes payments for companies that have disparate staffs, or use contractors, among other payment products such as FX.

Amit said Tipalti sought an L-1 visa for a veteran operations person from Israel that Tipalti wanted to bring in as part of a knowledge transfer for the company’s San Mateo team. “He is a fintech veteran and manages part of the work that we want to transfer to the U.S.,” Amit said, adding the transfer would eventually help create more jobs in the U.S.

The L-1 was refused, Amit said, adding the refusal was “technical” in nature and Tipaliti would appeal. “I’ve been involved in many L-1 applications and never heard of a refusal.”

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump

H-1B visas and L-1 visas, which cover existing overseas staff of U.S. companies, allow U.S. firms to sponsor workers with special skills for other countries. The jobs cover engineering, chemistry, journalism, health care, education and the arts, though most H-1B visa holders are technology workers from India. These visa holders usually have a bachelor’s degree and work in the U.S. under a three-year term and can work for only the sponsor company while in the U.S.

The Trump administration argues the ban, which is in effect until the end of 2020, is designed to protect American jobs. Other anti H-1B arguments in the past have suggested the visas lower U.S. technology wages.

About 219,000 workers would be blocked because of the ban, reports CNBC, which also quoted technology executives from Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter in opposition to the ban.

In a statement on its site, TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore also expressed opposition, saying the “executive order only hinders the ability of businesses to make decisions on how best to deploy their existing workforce and hire new employees. This will slow innovation and undermine the work the technology industry is doing to help our country recover from unprecedented events.”

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