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Suspension of foreign work visas to free up to 5.25 lakh jobs in US: White House

PTI, Jun 23, 2020, 9:58 AM IST

Washington: The temporary suspension of foreign work visas including H-1B and L1, that benefit Indian IT professionals, is expected to free up to 5,25,000 jobs in the US, senior administration officials said after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation in this regard.

“The sum total of what these actions will do in terms of freeing up jobs over the course of the rest of 2020 is about 5,25,000 jobs,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.

“Quite a significant number, where President Trump is focusing on getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible after we’ve suffered this hit to our economy based on the coronavirus and the harm it’s done,” the official said.

A proclamation of Trump on Monday temporarily suspended till the end of the current year a number of popular non-immigrant visas including the H-1B, H-4, H-2B visa, J, and L visas.

“The H-1B is the high-tech visa. H-4 is the spouse of certain other visa holders, including H-1B and H-2B. H-2B is a bit of a low-skill catchall. The only ones that’ll come in under the H-2B will be those in the foodservice industry, which is less than 15 percent of all H-2Bs.”

“Then, almost all working J visas will be excluded, and then all L visas. Ls are intra-company transfers from, say, company X, their facility in Germany to their facility in Michigan,” the official said.

While maintaining the integrity of the asylum system, the president has closed a bunch of those loopholes, which, in addition to cleaning up the asylum system, will also free up more jobs for Americans. “That is done by regulation, however, not by the executive order,” the official said.

“Trump in his lengthy proclamation has directed the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate work permits of those who have final orders of removal or commit crimes in the United States or are deportable. The category alone is in excess of 50,000 jobs a year that will be opened up for Americans,” the official said.

The White House later said that the proclamation is part of the ‘America first recovery’ effort of Trump as he is expanding the suspension of certain visas through the end of the year to ensure American workers take first priority as the country recovers from the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Noting that Trump is extending the pause on new immigrant visas through the end of the year to ensure that the US continues putting American workers first during the ongoing coronavirus recovery, the White House said the president is building on this measure with an additional pause on several job-related nonimmigrant visas—H-1Bs, H-2Bs without a nexus to the food-supply chain, certain H-4s, as well as Ls and certain Js—preserving jobs for American citizens.

Asserting that this will ensure businesses look to American workers first when hiring, the White House said that many workers have been hurt through no fault of their own due to coronavirus and they should not remain on the sidelines while being replaced by new foreign labor.

“The Trump administration has also finalized regulations to eliminate the incentive to file an asylum application for the primary purpose of obtaining an employment authorization document. With some exceptions, we should not permit large numbers of foreign workers to enter the United States at a time when so many Americans are out of work,” the White House said.

The White House asserted that American people stand by Trump as he takes commonsense action to preserve jobs for American citizens. “Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans support pausing immigration as we recover as a nation from the coronavirus pandemic,” it said.

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found that 65 percent of those polled support pausing immigration into the country, including 61 percent of minority respondents. A Pew Research Center poll found that 81 percent of Americans see mass immigration as a threat as we confront the challenges posed by the coronavirus, it added.

“Democrats and liberal commentators used to support such commonsense efforts to protect American jobs,” the White House said.

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