President Trump yesterday announced a visa freeze that will affect about 525,000 people. The American Visa freeze will run through the end of the year and affect 170,000 people seeking permanent residency through green cards. Foreign workers will take the biggest hit as Trump’s executive order extends ban on employment-based visas until the end of the year.
In April, the President issued a 60-day suspension for Green cards to foreign nationals looking to live in the country.
The executive order affects H-1B visas, which will restrict the entry of tech workers into America. It will also affect H-2B, J-1, and L visas. The order will also affect seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, except those in healthcare, food processing, and agriculture. Further, it will extend to students who enter the country for work-study and cultural exchange programs as well as managerial employees of multinationals.
Therefore, the freeze will take a toll on companies that employ foreign workers, as well as global companies with subsidiaries in America.
According to the administration, freezing the American visa will help preserve US jobs during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Moreover, Trump describes the order as a tool to give Americans priority in getting employment, currently scarce.
Under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workersUS President Donald Trump
However, the New York Times posits that the push to curb immigration extends beyond the pandemic, dating back to his 2016 campaign. Further, current temporary suspensions might lead to more permanent barriers to immigration. According to the New York Times, the President is directing the government to implement measures that will prevent companies from hiring midlevel foreign workers in accounting and programming.
Reaction to the American visa freeze
Thomas J Donohue, Chief Executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, argues that the restrictions will hold the country back, and further “push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”
The executive order continues to receive mass criticism from big tech companies that rely on foreign employees to remain globally competitive.
Similarly, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai expressed his disappointment in the executive order, mentioning that immigration contributed to America’s tech leadership. Amazon also opposed the order, saying it threatens economic recovery.