New Visa Freeze By Trump Administration Targets Foreign Workers

An extension of a halt in issuing of green cards as well as a suspension of visas for foreign workers being allowed in the United States till 2020 announced by President Donald Trump.

The new visa policy announced by Trump is expected to affect a high-skilled tech workers, non-agricultural seasonal helpers, au pairs and top executives from other countries. This new measure will help in freeing up and creation of jobs for Americans many of whom have lost their jobs because of the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the White house said.

But according to critics, the Trump administration is using the garb of the pandemic to make immigration laws stricter.

About 520,000 people would be impacted by the freeze which will be implemented till the end of the current year, the Trump administration said in a briefing for reporters. That number includes people, numbered about 170,000, who would be blocked by the Trump administration’s decision to extend a ban on some new green cards which gives foreigners the right to permanent residency in the US.

The first phase of suspension of visas was announced by the White House IN April and was set to expire on Monday.

According to analysts, it is expected that those who already hold the visas that have been suspended would be affected by the new measure that was announced on Monday.

The restrictions on visas also include suspension of issuing of new H-1B visas which are used by many American and Indian companies to hire foreign tech experts. According to critics, this visa type has been exploited by Silicon Valley companies to outsource American jobs to foreigners who are usually much lower paid than Americans would for the same job. There were about 225,000 applications competing for 85,000 positions that were available through the H-1B visa route last year.

H-2B visas that are granted to foreigners who are hired as seasonal workers will also get suspended by the latest Trump administration order. This will impact hiring of foreign workers in the hospitality industry. The suspension is however not applicable to hiring of foreigners into the agriculture and food processing industry and for healthcare professionals.

A category of visas called the J-1 visas, that are short term exchange visas and includes university students and foreign au pairs who provide childcare will also be affected by the order.  The order however excludes professors and scholars. The new orders do not have any provision to request for exemptions.

The Trump administration has also temporarily suspended issuing of L visas that are granted to managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.

According to a senior White House official, the aim of this new order is to get “the best and the brightest” and “the most value for our economy”.

“This is a bold move by the Trump administration to protect American jobs,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours restrictions, told AP news agency.

The American Civil Liberties Union is opposed to the move. “It’s the exploitation of a pandemic to reshape immigration law, while superseding Congress,” it said.

Many American businesses that depend on foreign workers also opposed the new policy.

“As the economy rebounds, American businesses will need assurances that they can meet all their workforce needs,” the Chamber of Commerce wrote in a letter this month warning against new restrictions. “To that end, it is crucial that they have access to talent both domestically and from around the world,” it said.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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