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Trump Administration Suspends H-1B and Other Work Visas

What These Changes Mean for Immigrant Workers Seeking or Holding a Visa

On June 22, 2020, the Trump administration suspended an array of work visas, including the popular H-1B visa, through at least the end of the year. The move represents another step in President Donald Trump’s priority of reducing immigration into the United States. Combined with other efforts, the administration explained it hopes the suspension will keep as many as 525,000 immigrants from entering the country, in theory providing more job opportunities for existing American citizens.

The block impacts the following visa categories:

  • H-1B visas intended for skilled workers, often utilized by the tech industry for computer programmers and coders
  • H-2B visas intended for seasonal workers, often utilized by the landscaping industry
  • L visas intended for managers, executives, and specialized workers transferring within a company
  • J visas intended for cultural exchange, a category that includes interns, teachers, trainees, au pairs, camp counselors, and those participating in a summer travel program for work

Foreign workers who already have one of the above visa categories will not be affected by the new order, even if they are presently abroad but will return to the United States. It is also not yet clear whether visa holders outside the United States will be able to renew their visas or related travel documents.

Notably, the H-2A visa, intended for agricultural workers, was omitted from the order. Several other less prominent, non-immigrant visa categories, including the O visa for those of “extraordinary ability or achievement,” are also not affected. Exemptions also exist for spouses and children of U.S. citizens and any person whose entry into the country is considered “in the national interest.”

The suspension has faced substantial criticism. Immigration advocates decry the order’s arbitrary timing and cruelty, while business leaders suggest the move will result in a reduction of American innovation and slowing of job growth.

It is also worth noting that, even before the June order, many visa holders faced uncertain futures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Furloughs and layoffs stemming from the virus’s widespread economic impact have endangered workers’ fulfillment of their visa criteria. Conservative lawmakers have pointed to COVID-19’s economic damage as a justification for the suspension, arguing that the country’s record unemployment rates mean jobs should go to American citizens instead of foreign workers.

Concerned About the Recent Changes?

Obtaining a work visa could already be an arduous, confusing process before these changes took effect. We at The Alagiri Immigration Law Firm understand these new restrictions can be dispiriting. If you are a foreign worker seeking to obtain a visa or renew an existing one, our immigration team wants to help. Our commitment to immigration advocacy has allowed us to help many in the California Bay Area find solutions to their immigration problems, and, in 2018, we were voted Best Immigration Law Firm in California.

Get the help you deserve with your work visa today. Call (650) 931-2509 or contact us online to request your consultation.