Creating New Visa Categories by Policy

Who's in charge of protecting American workers?

By Dan Cadman on September 27, 2019

My colleague David North has pointed out an obscure policy shift within the Department of State having to do with how it will classify and issue visas to foreign workers involved with vessels that service and maintain wind farms on the outer continental shelf of the United States.

Of course, the new designation B-1 (OCS), translating as "Visitor for Business, Outer Continental Shelf" — even though it is ostensibly a transit visa to allow those workers to get onto the vessels where they will work — makes it easier for corporations to use foreign labor to service the wind farms that are in point of fact a part of the U.S. electrical grid.

What happened to all that happy talk about this administration working to transform the GOP into "the party of the American worker"? Why should departments of the federal government be making it easier for transnational corporations to off-shore jobs to foreign workers when the enterprise itself so clearly relates to our domestic energy policies and needs?

It may be that State Department officials simply slipped this in by publishing it in the Foreign Affairs Manual or issuing an instructional wire to consular officers abroad with no outside review. But it doesn't matter. Why isn't there some organ of this administration charged with acting in the way that a governor functions in a motor? Theoretically that's supposed to be the Office of Management and Budget, but apparently those watchdogs were sleeping on the porch when this went through.

Then there's the Department of Homeland Security, which has by law the right and responsibility for promulgating visa rules, although as I've noted in the past, the DHS secretary is loathe to go up against the 900-pound gorilla that the Secretary of State represents. Looks like this is a good opportunity to "liaise" with their consular counterparts in a discussion of whether this new category created by policy was well thought through, and whether it should be rescinded.

Will this happen? Don't bet your inheritance on it.