President Trump signed an executive order on Monday to temporarily suspend certain temporary worker visas through the end of the year and expand on the foreign-worker restrictions by those heavily used by multinational corporations and the technology industry.
The White House just announced the new order extending restrictions that were originally enacted in late April amid the coronavirus pandemic that blocks most people from receiving a permanent residency visa — or green card. It will also expand on prohibiting visas for most guest workers looking for temporary or seasonal work, but exempts farm workers and individuals who are determined by the federal government as “entry would be in the national interests” such as health care workers who were critical to the coronavirus response.
Certain visas will extend to pause will impact visas including expanding H-1B visas that are commonly used by tech companies, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, H-4 visas that are given to spouses that hold H-1B visa holders, L-1 visas used for executives transferring to the United States from positions abroad and certain J-1 visas that are given to researchers and scholars.
The new restrictions won’t apply to visa-holders already in the United States and the restrictions are set to remain in place until the end of 2020 with the possibility the president extending the order.
During a background briefing call with reporters, the officials said Trump has directed his administration to work on a permanent reforms that would crack down on H-1B visas lottery system and work permits for asylum seekers. Trump is pushing for a merit-based system that would distribute H-1B visas based on which applicants received the highest wage offers.
“This will drive up both wage level and skill level. It will also eliminate competition with Americans for entry-level jobs,” the official said on the call.
A senior administration official said that the visa restrictions would free up more than half a million jobs for workers already in the country.
“There are an unprecedented number of Americans who are out of work, but we are also expecting to see an unprecedented growth in our economy,” a senior administration official said. “In order to ensure that we are hiring Americans first, we are putting a pause on certain non-immigrant visas into the United States, again for the purpose of ensuring that Americans can get jobs here in the U.S. The president’s priority is getting Americans back to work.”
In April, Trump signed an executive order to temporarily suspend for 60-days immigration to individuals seeking a green card during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to help Americans in the job market after the pandemic put millions out of work
“We have a solemn duty to ensure these unemployed Americans regain their jobs and their livelihoods, therefore in order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States,” Trump said during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing in April. “By pausing immigration we’ll help put Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. This pause on new immigration will also help to conserve vital medical resources for American citizens.”