The Wall Street Journal reports that L-1, H4 EAD and OPT are also likely to be affected.
The White House is considering suspending the H-1B visa through fall, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The suspension could extend into the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, the beginning of the new H-1B season, the paper said, quoting “administration officials familiar with the talks.”
The report said while that “could bar any new H-1B holder outside the country from coming to work until the suspension is lifted,” visa holders already in the United States “are unlikely to be affected.”
Apart from the H-1B program, L-1 and J-1 visas will also be affected, the Journal said. However, health-care professionals treating coronavirus patients and workers in the food supply chain will be spared.
These are “among several possible measures” the administration is considering “amid the economic fallout of the pandemic,” the paper said, adding that “a series of legal immigration limits” might be unveiled “as part of an executive action he is set to unveil in the coming weeks.”
Other changes under consideration, according to the report, include:
- Scaling back the Optional Practical Training program by reducing the OPT for STEM students from the current three years to one year.
- Eliminating work permits for H4 visa holders, which might affect as many as 100,000 spouses of H-1B employees who are currently working on EAD.
- The administration is also considering increasing the H-1B visa fee to $20,000.
- Narrowing the definition of specialty occupations and shortening the length of the visas “for workers paid at the lowest pay tier and require pay increases for them upon renewal.”
The sources also told the Journal that Trump “hasn’t yet signed off on the plan” and “it could change as senior aides continue to discuss the matter.”
In an on-the-record statement, a White House spokesperson told the paper that, “The administration is currently evaluating a wide range of options, formulated by career experts, to protect American workers and job seekers, especially disadvantaged and underserved citizens—but no decisions of any kind have been made.”
A presidential proclamation that came into effect at 11:59 pm on April 23, 2020, had temporarily banned certain non-immigrants from entering the country for 60 days.
That executive action had spared H-1B visas, even though there was speculation that the visa program would also be included.
The New York Times reported that the president “backed away from plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups exploded in anger at the threat of losing access to foreign labor.”
However, in the proclamation, Trump had instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Labor, to recommend to him further actions on all types of immigration and visa programs, if they are necessary, within 60 days.
That 60-day window is fast approaching now.
Is Trump mulling new limits on H-1B visa? (May 27, 2020)