Microsoft asks for exemptions to Trump’s immigration order for visa holders

Microsoft isn’t ending its general opposition to Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration from last week, but it is more formally requesting the granting of immediate exceptions that would help its own employees, as well as the employees of other tech companies who are lawful visa holders but still affected by the ban.

In a blog post, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith detailed the need the company identifies for an “exception process” that would make it possible for “Responsible Known Travelers with Pressing Needs” to get back into the U.S. This category of traveler would include visa holders from the countries named in Trump’s order who have families within the U.S. but were traveling abroad at the time the order was issued.

Smith notes that Microsoft has 76 employees, with 41 dependents, who currently hold non-immigrant visas allowing them to live in the U.S. who are affected by the order. He also points out that the order actually already includes a provision that allows DHS and the Secretary of State to issues visas and entry permissions on a “case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest.”

Microsoft’s request for special permission seeks to take advantage of this allowance to grant entry permission to anyone who already has a work or student visa (or is related to a visa holder and granted access under their permit), hasn’t committed any crime, is looking to travel for work or family emergency for no longer than two weeks and said travel would not include the countries named in the order when done for work purposes.

The argument is basically that the roles these individuals fill are already in the national interest, whether at work or in pursuit of education, and so there should be blanket coverage for them under the existing order’s structure.

Again, Microsoft isn’t saying it’s okay with the order provided these allowances are made; it’s still very much of the opinion that even if this proposal goes through, it “will not and should not end the border debate and deliberations regarding last week’s executive order,” so it’s good to see it pursuing both near-term relief for affected individuals and pushing for long-term solutions.