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‘Live with low-level fear’: U.S. ad agencies and immigration lawyers say visa suspension ‘unnerving’ international talent

Digiday 24 Jun 2020 04:01
June 24, 2020 by Kristina Monllos

On Monday, President Trump suspended new work visas for foreign-born talent in certain fields until at least the end of the year. The president did so with a new proclamation, which goes into effect today, in a move that’s purportedly meant to temper unemployment for Americans as the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue. 

For U.S. advertising agencies, which have long relied on foreign-born talent, the decision creates new hurdles for those in the midst of adding foreign-born employees via the H-1B visa or transferring executives from overseas to the U.S. via the L visa. Those employees could be facing a limbo of sorts until the order, which puts a pause on new applications, is lifted. The order should not have an impact on agency staffers who are currently on visas. 

Even so, “it’s going to have a dramatic impact on agencies and every company that hires outside of the United States,” said Mark Koestler, partner and co-chair of business immigration for New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel. For agencies, that dramatic impact will be that they are prevented from bringing on new foreign-born talent seeking H-1B visas as well as from bringing c-suite executives from abroad to the U.S. Koestler works with U.S. ad agencies as they bring in foreign-born talent to the U.S. via H-1B, L-1 and O-1 visas (the O-1, which is often used for creatives who prove “extraordinary ability,” is not impacted). 

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USPresident TrumpKoestlerStink StudiosMark Koestler
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