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The US Temporarily Suspends Work Visas for H-1B Holders

By José Escobedo | Tue, 06/23/2020 - 18:44

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would temporarily halt work visas such as the H-1B visa program for highly skilled workers. The decision comes at a time when tech talent shortages are prevalent across the country. The White House has said this measure will create jobs for Americans who have been affected by COVID-19.

This move would eliminate valuable source of foreign labor for tech companies. According to TechCrunch, officials from the Trump administration told the Wall Street Journal that the move is intended to protect American jobs, but executives in the technology industry have long warned that visa restrictions would hurt the nation’s ability to compete in industries that have both strategic and financial significance as engines of economic growth. Tech officials say this move could force companies to relocate parts of their operations overseas with the aim of retaining and hire top technology candidates.  

“The technology industry is working overtime to keep Americans connected during a global pandemic by providing food delivery services, telehealth care, collaborative business solutions and ways for families and friends to stay connected,” said Linda Moore, President and Chief Executive of the tech industry’s lobbying group TechNet, in a statement. “Looking forward, technology will continue to be crucial to the rebuilding of our economy. Today’s executive order only hinders the ability of businesses to make decisions on how best to deploy their existing workforce and hire new employees. This will slow innovation and undermine the work the technology industry is doing to help our country recover from unprecedented events.”

The ban will approximately affect 525,000 people who will not be able to enter the country as a result of the expanded travel restrictions, according to estimates provided to the Wall Street Journal. This includes 170,000 green card holders that have not been able to enter the US since April.

As expected, companies that may be directly affected by this decision have already started voicing out their opinion against the ban. “Banning all H-1B visas means CEOs like me have to open offices and hire more people in countries like Canada that allow immigration. This visa ban is morally wrong and economically stupid,” wrote Anshu Sharma,  CEO of the technology startup Skyflow, reports TechCrunch.

Seasonal workers who come from Mexico and Central America have also been affected by the immigration measure. H-2B visas which are used to let short-term workers in landscaping and non-farming jobs into the country have also been eliminated. Immigrant rights advocates and Hispanic business groups do not agree with such ban and have expressed that these restrictions will ultimately harm the economy. They have accused the Trump administration of using the current health crisis as a pretext to enact unnecessary immigration restrictions.

Restrictions are supposed to last until the end of 2020 and the ban will not affect those applicants who have already received such visas.

 

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The data used in this article was sourced from:  
TechCrunch, BBC, CNN
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José Escobedo José Escobedo Senior Editorial Manager

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