(CMR) President Trump on Monday extended a freeze on green cards for new immigrants and signed an executive order to suspend new H-1B specialty occupation visas and other temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers and au pairs through the end of the year.
The officials said that H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, H-2B guest-worker visas, J trainee visas and L intracompany transferee visas, along with those for their spouses, will be restricted, which they said would free up 525,000 jobs for Americans.
The order, published on Monday evening, will only affect those outside the U.S. who do not already have valid visas. The president is also extending existing restrictions on new green cards through the end of the year.
The visa suspension takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on June 24.
In addition to the visa suspension, the president is calling for massive changes to the H-1B visa system itself, including by eliminating the annual lottery and instead awarding the 85,000 slots to those candidates offered the highest salaries. An official said this would reduce competition for entry-level positions.
Few exemptions are available, the officials said, though H-2B workers in the food supply and seafood processing industry are shielded. Additionally, foreigners coming to the U.S. to treat or research the novel coronavirus will be exempted from the ban, though other health care workers will not be.
“President Trump is focusing on getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible,” one of the officials said on the call, describing the plan as part of Trump's “America First recovery.”
The new restrictions come exactly two months after Trump's April 22 order barring some foreign citizens from moving to the U.S. on new green cards, including relatives of permanent residents and parents of U.S. citizens, with broader exemptions for health care and other essential workers.
When handing down that proclamation, Trump instructed administration officials to review nonimmigrant visa programs and recommend “other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers” within 30 days.
The Trump administration has already closed the U.S. land borders to nonessential travel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an order under a public health statute allowing border officials to turn back all migrants arriving without proper documentation, including children and asylum seekers.
Many are doubtful that it will have the intended impact of protecting 525,000 job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.