On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order introducing sweeping changes to some of the country's border controls. The effects of these changes go beyond the suspension of all refugee admissions to the United States; they will also affect many of those lawfully living and/or working in the US - and that has presented immediate problems for multinational companies with global workforces, including many in the technology industry.
The order has banned all people from seven Muslim-majority nations - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen - from entering the US for 90 days. The ban includes those with dual-nationalities shared with those countries, except for those with dual citizenship in the US.
Reuters has confirmed with administration officials that even green card holders - those granted legal permanent residency in the US - from those countries will not be permitted to re-enter the country without being reviewed on a "case by case basis". A White House official told reporters today that green card holders already in the United States will now have to meet with a consular official before they leave the country.
Concern is already growing at many American companies who employ staff in the US from around the world. Microsoft issued a statement to TechCrunch today, revealing that it's providing support to its staff who are affected by the changes:
We share the concerns about the impact of the executive order on our employees from the listed countries, all of whom have been in the United States lawfully, and we’re actively working with them to provide legal advice and assistance.
Yesterday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai urgently recalled all potentially-affected employees to the United States, noting that 187 of the company's staff were directly impacted by the new restrictions. Google told Bloomberg:
We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that create barriers to bringing great talent to the U.S. We’ll continue to make our views on these issues known to leaders in Washington and elsewhere.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday that he was "concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump." Box CEO Aaron Levie went even further:
Many other companies haven't yet commented on the situation - but for those firms who employ the best and the brightest from around the world, without blanket assumptions based on where they were born, things have suddenly become a lot more complicated.
White House image via Shutterstock