Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer for Microsoft, has been hard at work since this last weekend. In light of President Trump's executive order last Friday to restrict travel, the tech giant has decided to propose a request for exceptions (via Seattle Times.)
This isn't too far beyond the pale. After all, the executive order gives the right to Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to grant exceptions.
As of today, Microsoft has filed a formal request to allow "Responsible Known Travellers with Pressing Needs" entrance into the country. These individuals are defined by a list of criteria to travel if:
- The applicant initially must fall into one of three categories: (a) an individual who already holds a valid nonimmigrant work visa sponsored by a U.S. employer enrolled in the E-Verify program, which helps ensure responsible visa use; (b) an individual who already holds an F-1 student visa to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. university and can provide documentation from the university showing that he or she is currently enrolled and in good standing; or (c) be an immediate family member of one of these individuals and hold a derivative nonimmigrant visa;
- The individual must have committed no crime in the United States;
- If applying to depart from the U.S. and subsequently re-enter, the purpose of the travel must be for an exigent family-related emergency or for the business need of an employer. The travel abroad would be for a duration of no longer than two weeks; and
- Business travel abroad would not include passage through the countries covered by the executive order. Personal travel abroad for exigent family-related emergencies may allow for travel to any country on a case-by-case basis.
It is obvious that Microsoft feels strongly about the global reach of knowledge and technology, particularly when it comes to their own. The company, as we know, has many branches across the globe and air travel is simply part of the routine. But since the executive order, almost 76 employees were affected.
In the proposal, Smith even explained that for many of these individuals have already vetted by the U.S. government to apply for the nonimmigrant visas in the first place. Much of the evaluation process includes a background check by the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) and any unresolved anomalies result in an application decline.
The Microsoft statement did clearly express that national security is important, as is the need of allowing these individuals that fill 'critical roles in the organizations that employ them'. They also make an argument that foreign students pursuing an education in the United States should be in consideration.