Restricting immigration has been a focus of the Trump administration since its first days when it issued the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, and it has continued into Trump’s final 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 cruel.
US media commented that Trump’s decision was yet another example of how his administration is trying to box Biden in on challenging policy matters.
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 year from countries like India and China. They would now have to wait at least till the end of March before approaching the US diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.
President Trump said the effects of Covid-19 on the US labour market and the health of American communities are a matter of ongoing national concern, and the considerations present in the two previous proclamations have not been eliminated.
“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus continues to significantly disrupt Americans' livelihoods. While the November overall unemployment rate in the US 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 daily cases worldwide reported by the WHO, for example, is higher than the comparable number present during June, and while therapeutics and vaccines are recently available for an increasing number of Americans, their effect on the labour market and community health has not yet been fully realised, he said. “Moreover, actions such as States’ continued imposition of restrictions on businesses still affect the number of workers that can be hired as compared with February of 2020,” Trump said, adding that his latest proclamation may be extended if needed.
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