President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, Brad Smith, wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump asking for a formal exemption process for employees effected by Trump’s executive order travel ban. Microsoft would like to see exemptions upheld for all “responsible known travelers with pressing needs.” The idea would be proposed and sponsored by a US company or university. The proposal would allow anyone from the seven countries in question who have valid visas to travel safely outside the US without fear of having their return re-entry denied, on the understanding that they will travel for amounts of time less than two weeks, either for business or family reasons.
Smith stated that Microsoft does not consider this request a “fix” for the executive order, which it considers “misguided and a fundamental step backwards.” Rather, it is just an immediate solution to help foreign employees, who have been left stranded outside the US where they live and work; and those who are afraid to leave because they are worried they won’t be allowed to return.
Microsoft explained that they have 76 employees with 41 dependents, who are affected directly by the ban. Some of them have been unable to return to their children or visit sick relatives abroad.
Since the executive order has come under a maelstrom of criticism the Trump administration has eased up slightly on the terms of the order, allowing legal permanent residents an exemption from the ban. However, people on temporary visas are not exempt. Microsoft says its proposal does not change the terms of the order, it only asks that each case be judged on its own merits, granting exemptions under certain conditions.
“Immigration authorities already have a wide range of personal information about individuals in the visa categories that we have proposed,” writes Smith. “Many of these individuals also fill critical roles in the organizations that employ them, whether they are doctors, scientists, engineers, medical technicians, software developers, or any number of other highly skilled professionals. They are deeply valued contributors to the innovation, research and business acumen of our nation, and they serve critical roles in the successful operations of US companies.”