Speculation is mounting that the White House is set to suspend the processing of non-immigrant work visas in an effort to protect jobs for Americans amid the economic rout brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order will impact new H-1B visa seekers, in addition to L1 category for intercompany transfers as well as seasonal workers (H2B) and short term workers (J1). However, work visas under the NAFTA agreement will remain unscathed.
Some analysts say the executive order, expected to be announced sometime this week, will likely result in the kind of situation created following the imposition of the travel ban on several Islamic countries in 2017.
Over the past two months, the Donald Trump administration has suspended the processing of new immigrant visas and banned asylum-seekers.
Trump’s advisors are reportedly arguing that there is no point in allowing foreigners to acquire American jobs at a time when more than 20 million Americans have signed up for unemployment benefits.
The order will leave Silicon Valley firms in trouble as they are heavily dependent on H1B workers to protect their lead in the global technology marketplace.
Thomas Donohue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, has written a letter to President Trump, warning him that such an order would halt ‘innovation’, blunting the luster of American firms in the global marketplace.
“As the economy rebounds, American businesses will need assurances that they can meet all their workforce needs. To that end, it is crucial that they have access to talent both domestically and from around the world,” Donohue wrote.
“American businesses across multiple industries, including technology companies, accounting firms, manufacturers, among others, employ H-1B workers for the skill sets they possess that drive innovation and productivity gains within their own companies or for their clients.”
“If companies cannot hire new H-1B workers or continue to employ their current H-1B workers, innovation and productivity growth, particularly that which is achieved through patent production, they would suffer greatly to the detriment of our overall economy.”