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Obama's trade win brings H-1B unease

Patrick Thibodeau | June 26, 2015
There is wariness about President Barack Obama's push for new trade agreements that's likely to grow with the Senate's final approval Wednesday, by a 60-38 vote, of fast-track negotiating authority.

But could the trade agreement pose problems for H-1B reformers? Harrison said it doesn't look like that will be a problem for now, but it's "obviously a concern."

William Stock, an immigration attorney and president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said unless there are "specific commitments" agreed to by the U.S in a treaty that cover a particular area of visa policy, "there would be no basis for another state party to the agreement to complain about a change in that visa policy."

For example, said Stock, this means that even if the U.S. agreed to always make at least 65,000 H-1B visas available per year, it wouldn't prevent Congress from making other changes to the H-1B program. In fact, even if specific commitments were made, it "wouldn't prevent Congress from making changes, it would just be possible for other states to complain to the World Trade Organization if we did, and possibly get agreement to impose reciprocal restrictions on U.S. service providers in their country."

 

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