United States President Donald Trump

White House extends US work visa ban till year-end

*Freeze of travel permit linked to Trump’s feuds with Silicon Valley tech giants ─Report

*Measure to affect 525,000 jobs in the United States ─Senior Admin Official

Web Editor | ConsumerConnect

The United States (US) President Donald Trump will prolong a ban on the US employment permits to year-end, while including H-1B visas used widely in the tech industry.

A White House senior administration official Monday, June 22 informed journalists that the move would affect 525,000 jobs in the US, which is currently reeling from a high unemployment rate caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, agency report said.

President Trump signed the Executive Order that will lengthen the 60-day freeze, which he had earlier placed on new work permits for non-US citizens two months ago.

The new order, according to the administration official, would extend to the end of 2020 and include H-1B visas provided to 85,000 workers each year with special skills, many of them joining the US technology industry.

It was learnt it would also cover most J visas, which are common for academics and researchers, and L visas by companies to shift workers based overseas to their US offices.

Meanwhile, Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Google, whose company has been a leading beneficiary of the H1-B visa system, said that he was “disappointed” by the Trump Administration’s announcement.

Pichai in a tweet on Twitter stated that “immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech.”

Incidentally, the latest measure comes as Trump feuds with Silicon Valley after tech titans Twitter and Snapchat censored or hid posts by the US President they claimed incited violence or were misleading.

Silicon Valley is said to be the “region in Santa Clara County, Western California, that is an important centre for electronics and computer manufacturing industries” in the United States.

Trump, in May, signed an order seeking to strip social media giants of legal immunity for content on their platforms in a move slammed by his critics as a legally dubious act of political revenge.

Report further stated that the official said the order was necessary to respond to increasing unemployment that resulted from the COVID-19 shutdown in the American economy.

According to the administration functionary, the H-1B visa freeze was temporary while the programme is restructured, shifting from an annual lottery that feeds coders and other specialists to Silicon Valley to a system that gives priority to those foreign workers with the most value.

Trump “is going to prioritise those workers who are offered the highest wages,” as an indicator that they can add more value to the US economy.

“It will eliminate competition with Americans… in these industries at the entry level, and will do more to get the best and the brightest,” stated the official.

The move also freezes most H-2B visas —used each year for about 66,000 short-term, low-skilled jobs in landscaping, food and hospitality industries— and H-4 visas, which allow spouses of other visa holders to work.

Exemptions will apply to seafood processing plants and to au pairs, who offer families household help like childcare.

The official noted that the government is issuing new regulations that will make it much harder for tens of thousands of asylum seekers waiting for their court hearings to work legally in the meanwhile.

With often a two-year wait for a case to be reviewed, the administration sees many people apply for asylum mainly to be able to acquire work permits.

Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, normally a firm Trump supporter, criticised the decision and tweeted: “Those who believe legal immigration, particularly work visas, are harmful to the American worker do not understand the American economy.”

He said that he feared the President’s decision “will create a drag on our economic recovery.”

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