US President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a fresh directive extending the ban on H-1B visas, green cards, and other types of foreign work visas by three months.
Trump said the freeze is aimed at protecting American workers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the US labor market.
The freeze on various types of foreign work visas was ordered by Trump through two proclamations dated April 22nd and June 22nd last year.
The restriction was set to expire on December 31st, 2020 before Trump issued a new proclamation extending the freeze by three months to March 31st.
“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to significantly disrupt Americans’ livelihoods. While the November overall unemployment rate in the United States of 6.7 percent reflects a marked decline from its April high, there were still 9,834,000 fewer seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in November than in February of 2020,” Trump said in his proclamation.
The decision affects a large number of Indian IT professionals and many US and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas for the fiscal year 2021 which began on October 1st. Also affected are people going to the US on green cards to work or reunite with family.
H-1B visa allows American companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that need theoretical or technical expertise.
A majority of US tech companies rely on the visa to hire thousands of workers each year mainly from India and China.
The new directive comes with just 20 days left in Trump’s four-year term, which means it will remain in place when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn-in on January 20th.