Things to know: Trump suspends H1B, other visas till 2020-end.What it means

What has happened?

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In an attempt to aid the coronavirus-battered economy, US President Donald Trump has suspended the entry of certain foreign workers in the United States until the end of 2020. The visa suspension could open up 525,000 jobs for US workers, a senior administration official said on a call with reporters.  The official, however, did not explain how the administration arrived at that figure, but said the move was geared at "getting Americans back to work as quickly as possible."

Who will be most affected?

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The presidential proclamation that temporarily blocks foreign workers entering on H-1B visas, are for skilled employees, and L visas, for managers and specialised workers being transferred within a company. Trump also blocked those entering on H-2B seasonal worker visas, which are used by landscapers and other industries. The suspension also applies to J-1 holders "participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program." 

Are there any exemptions?

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The proclamation exempts those already in the United States, as well as valid visa holders overseas, but they must have an official travel document that permits entry into the United States. The measure also exempts food supply chain workers and people whose entry is deemed in the national interest. The suspension will include work-authorized J visas for cultural exchange opportunities, including camp counselors and au pairs, as well as visas for the spouses of H-1B workers.

Which visa categories are impacted?

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The effects of the proclamation may not be immediately felt as the issuance of work visas had already dramatically declined due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, visa categories including H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1, and L-2 will be the most affected. 

What do experts have to say?

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Representative image

Businesses including major tech companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the visa suspension would stifle the economic recovery after the damage done by the pandemic. BSA, The Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft and Slack , urged the administration in a statement to "refrain from restricting employment of highly-skilled foreign professionals," adding that "these restrictions will negatively impact the U.S. economy" and decrease job opportunities for Americans. H-2B visas, which were included in the suspension, have been used by Trump owned- or Trump-branded businesses, including his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. To know more, read Trump blocks H1B visa; businesses say decision will hurt US recovery

For more details, read US H1-B visa ban: Who is affected by Trump's new rules on work visas?

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