US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Monday restricting H-1B, L-1 and other temporary work permits, which he said is aimed at protecting local workers who are facing unemployment. "We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens", said Trump in a statement.
The White House said the move would protect US workers reeling from job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The ban expands earlier restrictions, adding work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services, and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers, health-care professionals supporting the pandemic response, and food-service employees, along with some other temporary workers.
The restrictions will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to the administration’s estimates. The measures will apply only to applicants seeking to come to the United States, not workers who already are in the US.
The proclamation signed by Trump on the H1-B visa ban states, “American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work.” It further says, “Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment to pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
The share of visas garnered by US firms such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft has been rising steadily. In the fiscal year 2019, seven of the top ten recipients of H-1B visas were US companies. The share of Indian companies among the top 10 visa recipients has dropped to 24 percent in 2019 from 51 percent in 2016, according to data from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.