Donald Trump suspends H1-B visas, extends green card prohibition

Popular among Indian IT professionals, this order could affect thousands of Indian families living and working in the US

By The New York Times
Published: Jun 23, 2020

us work visaPeople ride bikes past signage on the Google campus  at the company in Mountain View, California. Photo by Michael Short/Getty Images

President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending work visas and barring hundreds of thousands of foreigners from coming to work in the United States, part of a broad effort by the administration to dramatically limit entry into the country during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, senior administration officials said Monday.

The restrictions will block entry into the U.S. under the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers and also affect several other categories of visas.

The order, which has been expected for several weeks, is fiercely opposed by a broad swath of businesses — including high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, manufacturers and others — who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from overseas countries for jobs that Americans are not willing or capable of performing.

Stephen Miller, the architect of the president’s assault on immigration, has pushed for years to limit or eliminate the worker visas, arguing that they harm employment prospects for Americans. In recent months, he has argued that the economic distress caused by the virus has made it even more important to turn off the spigot of foreign entry into the United States.

In April, the president signed an executive order that suspended for 60 days the issuance of green cards to foreigners looking to live in the United States. But at the time, Miller and the president bowed to pressure from the business community to avoid imposing limits on the worker visas.

Monday’s order extends the green-card prohibition in addition to suspending the issuance of many of the worker visas. In addition, the administration officials said that the president will order new regulations to permanently change worker visas in the future so that foreign job offers go to more highly paid, highly-skilled workers that will compete less with Americans.

The order includes exceptions for some categories of workers, including health care professionals needed to combat or do research about the virus.

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©2019 New York Times News Service

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