Trump issues a new executive order banning H-1B, H4, L1, J and H-2B visas through December.
President Donald Trump suspended the H-1B and other employment visa programs till the end of the year, saying that they “present a risk to the U.S. labor market following the coronavirus outbreak.”
A new executive order issued on Monday afternoon said H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs will remain suspended till December 31, 2020, as they present “a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the covid-19 outbreak.”
The order comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. EST, June 24, 2020. It will not affect H-1B, H4, J and L visa holders that are already in the United States. It will also not apply to visa holders who have a valid nonimmigrant visa at the moment.
In the H-2B category, an exception is being made to foreign workers who will be part of the U.S. food supply chain. A similar exception is made to au pairs and scholars in the J category, whose entry will be of national interest.
Also left untouched is the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign students graduating from US universities to work in the United States.
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Earlier, briefing the media, an administration official said the executive order will create 525,000 jobs, which would have been otherwise filled by foreign workers.
The new executive order expands a presidential proclamation issued by the president in April that prohibited certain immigration to the country for 60 days.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 120,000 Americans so far, has ravaged the U.S. economy, eliminating some 40 million jobs.
Immigration hawks and H-1B critics have been calling for banning on H-1B visas in the aftermath of massive job losses. However, the last executive action did not contain any restrictions on H-1B visas because of huge lobbying efforts by the U.S. tech industry, which uses three-fourths of these visas.
In the last few weeks, the tech industry has been lobbying the administration to not touch the H-1B program.
Updated at 9 pm, June 22, 2020.