President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, is set to sign an order temporarily halting access to several employment-based visas, and issuance of green cards for the rest of the year.
This decision, which comes as a result of the 13.3% unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic, will restrain hundreds of thousands of people seeking to work in the U.S. However, workers who are already in the United States will not be affected by this order.
According to a senior administration official quoted on Bloomberg, the order will freeze new H1-B, H2-B, H-4, L and most J visas through the end of the year, the official said.
The only exceptions are the food processing workers who will still be allowed to access H2-B visas.
In a Saturday interview with Fox News, Trump had stated that he wanted Americans to take the jobs that would otherwise go to those granted the visas.
“We have plenty of people looking for jobs,” he told Fox. “I think it’s going to make a lot of people very happy. And it’s common sense.”
Trump had earlier hinted at plans to temporarily suspend migrations to the US, amid concerns from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Industry Council, that such moves could disrupt business.
Employment based visas
H-1B visas cover temporary work authorizations for people with highly specialized knowledge, while H-4 visas are issued to immediate family members of H-1B visa holders.
The H-2 visas allow temporary work in agriculture, construction, forestry and many other industries.
L visas are for temporary intracompany transfers for those who are in management positions or have specialized knowledge, while J visas are for work- and study-based exchange visitor programs.
Although the American technology industry has relied on H-1B visas to hire foreign talent, particularly in the fields of science and engineering in the past years, critics say some companies have abused the program to displace American workers.
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Bloomberg reports that there are plans to restructure the H1-B program to rewrite rules in which applicants will get priority for H1-B visas, giving reference to would-be immigrants with the highest salary offers.
In the 2019 fiscal year alone, the US issued more than 900,000 visas in these categories.