Daily US Times: US President Donald Trump has suspended visas for other foreign workers and extended a pause on some green cards until the end of 2020.
High-skilled tech workers, au pairs, non-agricultural seasonal helpers and top executives will be affected.
Trump administration said the move will create jobs for Americans hurting economically due to the pandemic, but critics say the White House is exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to tighten up immigration laws.
Trump administration said in a briefing for reporters that the freeze, in place through the end of the year, would impact about 525,000 people.
That includes an estimated 170,000 people blocked by the decision to extend a ban on some new green cards – which grants permanent residence to foreigners. It is expected that existing visa holders are not be affected under the new restrictions announced on Monday.
The White House first announced it was halting those visas in April, an order that had been set to expire on Monday. The order also applies to H-1B visas, many of which are granted to high skilled Indian tech workers. Critics say these visas have allowed many companies of Silicon Valley to outsource American jobs to lower-paid foreign employees. Last year, there were about 225,000 applications competing for 85,000 spots available through the H1-B visa programme.
The latest order will suspend most H-2B visas for seasonal workers, including those in the hospitality industry, except those in the food processing industry, agriculture and healthcare professionals.
The order will restrict J-1 short-term exchange visas, a category that includes university students and foreign au pairs who provide childcare. Scholars and professors are not included in the order. There will be a provision to request exemptions.
L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations will also be suspended.
What’s the reaction?
A senior official said the order’s aim is to get “the best and the brightest” and “the most value for our economy”.
“This is a bold move by the Trump administration to protect American jobs,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours restrictions.
But the American Civil Liberties Union argued the decision as ”exploitation of a pandemic to reshape immigration law, while superseding Congress.”
Many businesses, which rely on foreign workers, opposed the new policy.
In a letter written this month, the Chamber of Commerce warned against new restrictions. It said: “As the economy rebounds, American businesses will need assurances that they can meet all their workforce needs.”
“To that end, it is crucial that they have access to talent both domestically and from around the world.”