Trump extends freeze on H-1B visas, green cards; IT companies to take hit


US President Donald Trump has extended the freeze on the most sought-after H-1B visas by Indian IT professionals, together with other types of foreign work visas and green cards through March 31 to give protection to American workers, saying that the reasons for which he had imposed such restrictions amidst the pandemic have not changed.

The freeze on quite a lot of categories of work visas used to be ordered by Trump through two proclamations on April 22 and June 22 final year. Hours before the freeze used to be set to run out on December 31, Trump issued another proclamation on Thursday to extend it until March 31, ensuring that his sweeping limits on legitimate immigration will remain in place when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20.

He said that the reasons for which he had issued the sort of restriction have not changed. The continuation of the restrictions, which comes with just 20 days left in the Republican President’s term, is the most recent effort to bar the entry of immigrants to the USA.

Restricting immigration has been a focus of the Trump administration since its first days when it issued the trip ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, and it has continued into Trump’s last year in office as the White House uses the coronavirus pandemic as cover.

Biden, a Democrat, has promised to lift the suspension on H-1B visas, saying Trump’s immigration policies are merciless.

US media commented that Trump’s decision used to be yet another example of how his administration is making an attempt to box Biden in on challenging policy affairs.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each and every year from countries like India and China. They would now have to wait no less than till the end of March before approaching the USA diplomatic missions to receive stamping. It would also affect numerous Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.

President Trump said the effects of Covid-19 on the USA labour market and the health of American communities are a matter of ongoing national concern, and the considerations present in the two preceding proclamations have not been eliminated.

“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus continues to significantly disrupt Americans’ livelihoods. While the November overall unemployment rate in the USA of 6.7 per cent reflects a marked decline from its April high, there were still 9,834,000 fewer seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in November than in February of 2020,” Trump said in his proclamation.

The current number of new day-to-day cases worldwide reported by the WHO, for instance, is higher than the comparable number present all the way through June, and while therapeutics and vaccines are recently to be had for increasingly more Americans, their effect on the labour market and community health has not yet been fully realised, he said. “In addition, actions such as States’ continued imposition of restrictions on businesses still have an effect on the number of workers that may be hired as compared with February of 2020,” Trump said, adding that his latest proclamation is also extended whether needed.

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