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Trump suspends H-1B visa for rest of 2020

US President Donald Trump on Monday extended a ban on green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and added many temporary work visas to the freeze. Trump suspended H-1B visas, which is popular among Indian IT professionals, along with other foreign work visas for the rest of the year.

Trump admin order also suspends and limits entry into the US of H-1B, H-2B and L visas and their dependents till December 31, 2020. It also includes certain categories of J visas like an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, or summer work travel programme.

H-1B visas: Reason for suspension

Trump said the step was essential to help millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic crisis.

Issuing the proclamation ahead of the November presidential elections, Trump has ignored the mounting opposition to the order by various business organisations, lawmakers and human rights bodies.

When it comes into effect

The proclamation that comes into effect on June 24, is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the US government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning October 1.

They would now have to wait at least till the end of the current year before approaching the US diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.

“In the administration of our Nation’s immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labour market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour,” said the proclamation issued by Trump.

The proclamation also extends till the end of the year his previous executive order that had banned issuing of new green cards of lawful permanent residency.

Trump cites unemployment numbers

For example, Trump said, between February and April of 2020, more than 17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas.

“During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions,” he said.

“The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L non-immigrant visa programmes, therefore, presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Trump said.

Exemptions to the order

The new rule would apply only to those who are outside the US, do not have a valid non-immigrant visa and an official travel document other than a visa to enter the country.

According to the proclamation, it does not have an impact on lawful permanent residents of the United States and foreign nationals who are spouses or child of an American citizen.

Foreign nationals seeking to enter the US to provide temporary labour or services essential to the food supply chain are also exempted from the latest proclamation.

With PTI inputs

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23rd June 2020