President Trump temporarily suspended new work visas and restricted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from finding jobs in the United States.
The order’s main target is the H-1B visa, which is used by universities and tech companies to recruit qualified staff and researchers from other nations.
Trump blocked visas for a wide variety of jobs, including those for computer programmers and other skilled workers who enter the country under the H-1B visa, as well as those for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, students on work-study summer programs and au pairs who arrive under other auspices.
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The order also limits the right of American corporations with global operations and international businesses with U.S. branches to move foreign executives and other personnel to the U.S. for months or years. And it excludes foreigner spouses who are working at U.S. companies.
The worker visas could block as many as 525,000 potential workers from coming to the USA. Trump’s order prompted criticism from student graduate groups and companies including Apple and Google while the executive order cited economic hardship brought on by the pandemic.
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Stephen Miller, the White House assistant and Mr Trump’s immigration policy architect, has been pushing for years to restrict or eliminate workers’ visas, arguing that they are harming American job prospects. And in recent months, Mr Miller has argued that turning off the spigot is even more important because of the economic distress caused by the virus.
But the order, which has been expected for several weeks, is strongly opposed by business leaders who fear it would obstruct their ability to hire desperately needed employees from overseas countries for jobs that Americans are either unable to do or unable to do.
“This is a full-front attack on American innovation and the ability of our nation to take advantage of attracting talent from around the world,” said Todd Schulte, FWD.us president, a pro-immigration group supported by technology companies.
Thomas J. Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “It will not help our country by putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, I.T. experts, doctors, nurses and other workers, it will hold us back”. He said, “Restrictive reforms to the immigration system of our nation will impact investment and economic development abroad, delay growth and slash job creation”.
The new restrictions do not apply to the citizens outside the United States who already have valid visas or seasonal farm employees, whose annual numbers ranged from roughly 50,000 to roughly 250,000 in the last 15 years.
Additionally, officials will grant exemptions to certain groups, such as scholars applying for J-1 visas, seasonal farmworkers or medical professionals studying COVID-19, according to Nature.
In the order, Mr Trump described visa suspension as a way to make sure Americans are first in line for scarce jobs — an assertion that immigration advocates say doesn’t reflect the reality of a dynamic and changing workforce.
The order also orders spared international students taking part in what is known as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which requires them to work temporarily in postgraduate jobs relevant to their profession.
In the exceptional circumstances of the economic downturn arising from the outbreak of Covid-19, such non-immigrant visa programmes authorizing such jobs pose an unprecedented danger to American workers’ jobs.
The president signed an executive order in April that halted the issuance of green cards for 60 days to certain immigrants who were looking to stay in the United States. Yet at the time, Mr Miller and the president bowed to the business community’s pressure to avoid enforcing restrictions on visas for the workers.
Trump was pushing the government to make substantial improvements to a wide variety of immigration rules to deter what they argued was unfair competition from immigrants seeking to come to the United States for American jobs.