Google orders H1B visa holders back to US

Imagine you are a H-1B visa holder or even a Green Card holder,. Maybe you were born in a war torn country in the Middle East in the 70s and at 2 yrs old your family fled taking you and your siblings with you arriving at the safe but unknown shores of New Zealand.

Like many immigrant families in western countries, your parents worked hard doing whatever jobs they could given their limited English skills trying to provide for you and your siblings to give you all a chance at a better life. While school life was tough because of the hard work ethic on which you were raised, you do very well and enter university and earn a Computer Science Degree.

Opportunity beckons in the US with a plethora of companies that are desperate for your skills and you manage to land a job offer with Google who look after you handsomely salary wise and set you up with the working H-1B visa. While you are in the US, you meet someone, fall in love and get engaged. However late one night you get the call everyone fears. Your mother has taken seriously ill back in New Zealand and may not have much time left.

You of course rush back to her side, with the full support of your manager and Google to take the time that you need. Suddenly while by her hospital bedside, in maybe her last days on the planet you get the email that you need to return to the US immediately. Not because of any work project or because your time off period has expired, but because Google is fearful that because of the new Presidential executive orders on Immigration you may be either barred from getting on a plane back to US or blocked at the border.

This seems strange in your mind as you are legal immigrant to the US and you are also a long time New Zealand citizen so why would there be any risk to you. Suddenly you realize b/c of the country of your birth, a country you have been unable to visit and thus don’t even remember let alone been in for over 30 years is putting you at risk.

Now you have a dying mother next to you, a fiancee back at home in California who also loves you and the general idea that whichever decision you make you may be stuck with for a while forsaking the other. You either may not see your fiancee and friends in the US again for who knows how long or you may be in the US but not be able to see your family. This is not to mention the situation with your mother.

This story is a hypothetical situation but as Bloomberg and others have reported today and from an internal Google memo, that they have ordered visa holder employee who are born in certain countries back to US before any potential 90 day or other moratorium on entry supposedly occurs.

There are already Green Card and H-1B visa holders who have been stopped from getting on planes or potentially worse right at the border after the afternoon directive from the Department of Homeland Security started to take effect.

Google are also concerned about Green Card holders who work for them who also happen to be originally born in those 7 countries identified; Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya.

Finally other tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook are also starting to tentatively speak out in the last 24 hours against the Trump Administration’s crazy US Immigration orders.

It is really time for all tech leads including 5 of the top 7 ┬ámost valuable companies in the world; Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook need to use their significant power, money and platform to speak out. These companies have been built of various generations of immigrants with Google’s CEO and Microsoft’s CEO both Indian and both Alphabet/Google and Facebook having immigrant co-founders.

This isn’t just about economics anymore for these organizations, it is now basic human dignity and for the fact you never want anyone to be in the position to have to choose between either seeing a loved one or never returning home.

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President Trump & US Immigration

It has been a while since I have posted both b/c I thought I had most things covered in the areas that I had some level of expertise and experience and also because things just get busy. However our new excuse for a President has changed a lot of things all for the worse, no matter which side of the immigration spectrum you fall on.

So if you are a tourist on visa waiver program (ESTA), if you are current non-immigrant worker on the E-3 or H-1B visa, if you are an undocumented immigrant, a refugee, a permanent resident with a Green Card, a student or work and travel person on J-1 visa, someone looking to marry a US citizen or even an immigrant US citizen who is from a certain group of countries, your life has been immediately made either worse or has the strong potential to be very soon.

The main reason we are in this predicament is largely because of racism, ignorance and apathy. This is not just limited to the bigots or the folks that are selfish and just care about themselves over basic human dignity and rights of others, it is also includes many progressive liberals who otherwise are pro-immigration and helping the downtrodden. This group who stayed home or voted 3rd party on election day 2016 are just as much to blame for the US Immigration mess we are all in as the bigots.

Hell even native born US citizens who like to travel or happen to have family who live in certain countries or have friends or family who just like to travel and explore the world are also at risk.

So what are all these changes?

Well largely these have come about with vague (although strongly worded) executive orders that put moratoriums on entry for certain nationals, likely make the assessment of non-immigrant visa petitions of the upcoming H-1B season far more strict and prejudiced with interpretations and even will potentially add fees and interviews to tourists from countries like the UK and Australia.

The reason why I say vague is because these are not laws (yet) but interpretations that could result in different decision making and other actions from rank and file USCIS officials at the border, state department employees in consulates and embassies around the world and thousands of workers across immigration centers around the US. I am sure the Diversity Visa Lottery (aka the Green Card Lottery) will be targeted as well.

Ultimately it could mean some people may face no effect but that a permanent resident returning home from a vacation home to family (or worse traveling b/c of a loved one’s death) is barred from boarding their flight home back to US or blocked / interrogated at the border. USCIS officials at the best of times are known in pockets to be very heavy handed to people entering the country and the Trump administration has now given those folks air cover to act like Nazi officers.

As more concrete information comes to add and real experiences from the field, I will likely now post more so stay tuned. In the meantime, stand up with your fellow rational US citizens and fight back in whatever way makes sense in your circumstance. The tyranny of Trump does not just have the potential to destroy the US but take the world with it. This is a pivotal moment in history and we all have a role to rise up as this young man did on the amazing day of Women’s Marches around the world.

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