Donald Trump extends immigrant, work visa restrictions

Washington: US President Donald Trump on Thursday extended an order suspending the issuance of certain types of work visas for another three months due to the raging coronavirus pandemic.

“The effects of COVID-19 on the United States labour market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern,” Trump wrote in Thursday’s proclamation, which cited the unemployment rate, pandemic-related restrictions on businesses issued by states and the rise in coronavirus infections since June.

Temporary visas

The restrictions also halt several temporary visas used by people abroad to work in the US, including the H-1B program that is popular in the tech sector and H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers. Cultural exchange J-1 visas for Au Pairs and other short-term workers; visas for spouses of H-1B and H-2B holders; and L visas for companies to relocate employees to the US will continue to be suspended as well.

“This proclamation shall expire on March 31, 2021, and may be continued as necessary. Within 15 days of December 31, 2020, and every 30 days thereafter while this proclamation is in effect, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Labor, recommend any modifications as may be necessary,” Trump added.

According to The Hill, Trump faced pressure from some corners to extend the order into 2021, with certain allies noting the economy has yet to fully recover from the pandemic.

Cheap foreign labour

“If this proclamation was allowed to lapse, then companies could easily return to exploiting cheap foreign labour,” said RJ Hauman, head of government relations at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which had advocated for an extension of the restrictions, as quoted by The Hill.

“If President-elect Biden quickly rescinds, the country should take note — he doesn’t stand with American workers,” Hauman added. However, there have been no comments made by the Biden team.

“The president-elect has vowed to undo many of Trump’s immigration policies, but if the economy continues to struggle he may be less inclined to allow more foreign workers to join the U.S. labour force when millions of Americans are still unemployed,” The Hill reported.

Trump earlier released a video where he said that “our economy is growing at the most rapid rate ever recorded.”