As expected, President Trump has signed a proclamation introducing additional restrictions on entry to the U.S. for nonimmigrant visa holders. Here is what the proclamation says:
- Effective June 24, the entry into the U.S. of individuals on H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visas, and their family members, is suspended through the end of the year, with the possibility of extending beyond 2020.
- The suspension applies only to those who are outside of the U.S. as of June 24 and do not already have a valid nonimmigrant visa or other valid travel document. It will not affect individuals currently in the U.S. or those outside the U.S. who have a currently valid visa. As Canadians do not need visa stamps, we expect – but do not yet know – that Canadians with valid approval notices as of June 24 will be treated as individuals with valid visas.
- There are several exemptions from the suspension, including workers in the food supply chain and individuals whose entry would be in the “national interest.” Although not specifically exempted, health care workers focused on treating and researching COVID-19 are listed as an example of a category of individuals whose entry would be in the national interest.
- The order also extends the previous suspension of individuals on immigrant visas through the end of the year.
Although these restrictions were expected, this order further limits the ability of American companies to hire the talent they need to succeed. Many employers have already pointed out that the proclamation makes it harder for U.S. companies to compete on the world stage. We find it ironic that a conservative Republican administration seeks to control the source of labor – wouldn’t we be better off allowing the free market to operate freely? Let employers hire the workers they think they need, not the workers the government would like them to hire.
In addition, it is difficult to understand the Administration’s claim that the proclamation will make 525,000 jobs available to U.S. workers. There are only 85,000 new H-1B visas each year, and most go to people who are already in the U.S. Congress created the L-1 visa so that multinational companies can transfer managers, executives and employees with highly specialized knowledge to the U.S. These jobs are part of the global economy and would not be available to U.S. workers. The H-2B visa is limited to 66,000 annually. Finally, the prospective J-1 workers impacted by this proclamation are au pairs, camp counselors, interns and trainees, teachers, and summer workers. It’s hard to imagine that closing off this visa will help very many of the 33 million people who have filed unemployment claims in the last few months.