US President Donald Trump suspended the entry into the United States of certain foreign workers on Monday, a move the White House said would help the economy struggling with Covid, but which business groups strongly oppose.
Trump issued a presidential proclamation that temporarily blocks foreign workers entering on H-1B visas, which are for skilled employees, and L visas, for managers and specialized workers being transferred within a company. Trump also blocked those entering on H-2B seasonal worker visas, which are used by landscapers and other industries.
The visa suspension, which runs to the end of the year, will open up 525,000 jobs for U. S. workers, a senior administration official said on a call with reporters. The official, who did not explain how the administration arrived at that figure, said the move was geared at “getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible.”
According to the Business Standard, businesses including major tech companies and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce said the visa suspension would stifle the economic recovery after the damage done by the pandemic.
Critics of the measure say Trump is using the pandemic to enact his long standing goal to limit immigration into the United States. The immediate effects of the proclamation will mostly be limited, as U. S. consulates around the world remain closed for most routine visa processing.
BSA, The Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft and Slack , urged the administration in a statement to “refrain from restricting employment of highly-skilled foreign professionals,” adding that “these restrictions will negatively impact the U. S. economy” and decrease job opportunities for Americans.
Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless, a pro-migrant group that helps families navigate the U. S. immigration system, said the fact that H-2A visas used to bring in foreign farm workers were exempt signals that “big agriculture interests are the only stakeholder with any sway over immigration policy in this administration.”
H-2B visas, which were included in the suspension, have been used by Trump owned- or Trump-branded businesses, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
Trump renewed an April proclamation that blocks some foreigners from permanent residence in the United States, extending that measure until the end of the year. The senior administration official said that proclamation freed up roughly 50,000 jobs for Americans, but did not provide details.
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said there were 15,269 petitions for H-1B visas in healthcare-related jobs across the United States in fiscal year 2019.
The Trump administration will make several other moves to tighten rules around temporary work visas.
The administration plans to rework the H-1B visa program so that the 85,000 visas available in the program each year go to the highest-paid applicants, instead of the current lottery system, the senior administration official said.
It also plans to issue rules that make it harder for companies to use the H-1B visa program to train foreign workers to perform the same job in another country.