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K&A Engineering Consulting's John Blowers featured in the Albany Business Review discussing H-1B Visas

July 1, 2020

John Blowers, Vice President of Operations at K&A Engineering Consulting, recently spoke to the Albany Business Review regarding the impacts of President Donald Trump's new executive order suspending nonimmigrant visas through the end of the year.

"'It is the lifeblood to the talent pipeline in this area,' said John Blowers, who lives in the Albany region and serves as vice president of operations for K&A Engineering in White Plains."

"The order, which took effect Wednesday, blocks international engineers, software developers and other technical talent from coming to the United States on H-1Bvisas. It also prevents foreign companies from transferring employees to America on L-1 visas. And it stops landscapers and horse trainers from bringing in seasonal help from South America on H-2B visas."

Blowers notes that K&A Engineering Consulting was founded by Purna Kharel, who arrived in the United States from Nepal two decades ago on an H-1B visa sponsored by a large American engineering firm. Today, Kharel employs 120engineers and skilled technical staff across the United States.

"All of that opportunity wouldn't exist if it weren't for the H-1B program 20 years ago and an engineering firm making the decision to sponsor him," Blowers said.

Full Article Below*

New York companies, universities squeezed as Trump restricts immigration

Published June 25, 2020 Albany Business Review

(https://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2020/06/25/immigration-order-squeezes-ny-companies-colleges.html)

The pregnant wife of a local professor who traveled overseas to visit family cannot get a visa to return to the

Albany region to be with her husband.


Co-chief executives of a Brazilian pharmaceutical company cannot use their visas to enter the United States to set up an American business and create up to 10 well-paying jobs.


Dozens of foreign researchers and professors with approved H-1B visas likely will have to wait until January to enter the United States.

Those are just a few of the impacts of President Donald Trump's new executive order suspending nonimmigrant visas through the end of the year, according to two Albany immigration attorneys.


The order, which took effect Wednesday, blocks international engineers, software developers and other technical talent from coming to the United States on H-1B visas. It also prevents foreign companies from transferring employees to America on L-1 visas. And it stops landscapers and horse trainers from bringing in seasonal help from South America on H-2B visas.


The H-1B program attracts thousands of workers to New York every year from college professors and scientists who work at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to engineers sponsored by General Electric and computer chip maker Global Foundries.

Regeneron alone has applied for more than 280 H-1B visas over the past three years, according to visa activity tracker Myvistajobs.com.


"It is the lifeblood to the talent pipeline in this area, "said John Blowers, who lives in the Albany region and serves as Vice President of operations for K&A Engineering in White Plains.


The engineering and consulting firm applied for four H-1B visas this year. Two were approved and Blowers was waiting to hear about two others when the executive order was signed.


The company designs electric substations as well as transmission and power distribution systems for Avangrid, New York State Electric and Gas Corp. and the New York Power Authority.


K&A was founded three years ago by electrical engineer Purna Kharel, who arrived in the United States from Nepal two decades ago on an H-1B visa sponsored by a large American engineering firm. Today, Kharel employs 120 engineers and skilled technical staff across the United States.


"All of that opportunity wouldn't exist if it weren't for the H-1B program 20 years ago and an engineering firm making the decision to sponsor him," Blowers said.


The same visa program that led Kharel on a path to an engineering career in the United States, positioning him to eventually become an American business owner and employer, is now restricting opportunities, at least temporarily, that it once made possible.


The executive order is making it more difficult for companies like K&A to find talent. And the engineering firm plans to hire 50 to 60 employees in the next three months after winning a large contract in Maine.

"The conversation becomes obfuscated," Blowers said, referring to discussions K&A has with prospective employees in Canada and Mexico with experience working on utilities and high voltage power. "Maybe you can join us and maybe not."


The order does not impact workers who have a valid visa and already entered the United States. There also are exemptions for foreign nationals providing temporary labor related to the U.S. food supply, spouses and children of U.S. citizens and potentially individuals involved with Covid-19 mitigation.


Part of the reason for the new restrictions stems from job losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the president wrote in this week's executive order.


"Under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction ... certain immigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers," the order reads.


Immigration attorneys contend the order is frustrating, damaging and based on a flawed assumption.


"The entire executive order is premised on the notion that the only reason why employers hire foreign workers is because it's cheaper than hiring American workers," said immigration attorney L.J D'Arrigo, a partner at Harris Beach PLLC. "It is much more expensive to hire foreign workers."


D'Arrigo expects the goal of protecting American jobs by temporarily banning nonimmigrant visas will hurt the

U.S. economy.


"What this executive order will do is encourage employers to offshore operations to countries where there is a supply of highly skilled professionals, which will actually lead to layoffs of U.S. workers. Employers have learned that remote work arrangements are actually working," D'Arrigo said.


"Impacts of the executive order started to unfold even before it tookeffect, said Seth Leech, an immigration attorney and partner with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP.


One of his university clients is rescinding offers to foreign professors who were supposed to come to the United States on visas this summer to set up laboratories and start teaching this fall.


Another client, who is the chief executive of an international industry association will be unable to use his H-1B visa to come and work in the United States until next year.


"The executive order has been extremely destructive to many of our clients and to business in the United States," Leech said.