The Trump administration will suspend H-1B, L-1, and other temporary work visas until the end of 2020, a senior official told reporters on Monday, in a move that could affect tens of thousands of people each year,
The plan expands on an April proclamation that shut down most green card applications from abroad. Those green card restrictions will also be extended through the end of the year.
The proclamation will allow Americans to find jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic without facing competition from foreign workers, said the official. The proposal won’t affect people who are already in the United States.
Doug Rand, immigration expert and co-founder of Boundless, said the order has “nothing to do with the state of the economy.”
“The Trump administration has been ratcheting up work visa restrictions from the beginning, when unemployment was low,” said Rand. “The pandemic is just a pretext to continue pursuing an extreme restrictionist agenda that most Americans oppose.”
Who is affected?
The order targets H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, particularly those in the tech industry, and their immediate relatives, and L-1 visas, which allow managers to transfer within a company.
The plan will also suspend H-2B visas, designed for seasonal workers, and J-1 visas for work and study exchange programs.
Boundless CEO Xiao Wang said restricting immigration is a blow to American companies and the economy.
“As an immigrant and job creator whose family became naturalized U.S. citizens after obtaining temporary visas, this is a shortsighted policy that will only serve to hurt America in the long run,” said Wang.
The Trump administration is also proposing changing the way H-1B visas are issued. Currently, H-1B visas are awarded using a lottery system. The new plan would distribute them based on highest salary.