A Note of Concern for U.S. Work Visas?

A group of Republican Senators sent a letter to President Trump on Friday requesting that he suspend certain employment-based visas for a one year period, or, “until national unemployment figures return to normal levels”. Citing the Novel Coronavirus as the catalyst for the terrible effects wrought on our economy, the Senators requested that President Trump suspend all new employment-based visas for sixty-days, and then after the sixty-day period suspend certain employment-based visas for a year.

The Senators note that, “exceptions to this suspension should be rare, limited to time-sensitive industries like agriculture, and issued only on a case-by-case basis […].”

The Senators specifically note that the President should suspend the issuance of new visas in the following categories:

  • Seasonal, non-agricultural work (H-2B visas)
  • Temporary workers (H-1B visas)– with exceptions for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are coming in to combat the Novel Coronavirus

In addition to the above, the Senators requested suspension of the Occupational Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows foreign students  to live and work in the U.S. from 1 to 3 years after graduation from university in order to obtain experience in their field of work.

What Effects Could This Have?

While it is unlikely that President Trump could suspend H-1B transfers and extensions that occur within the U.S., he could extend the suspension on visa issuance outside of the U.S.

For OPT, it would be ill-advised to suspend a program that has been so beneficial for the U.S. economy since the students who turn into employees pay taxes and continue to stimulate the job market through technological innovations.

Overall, the current unemployment rate now is not a reflection of the economy.  The economy was functioning well pre-virus.  The US had to pull the parking break on a speeding Ferrari.  That has nothing to do with immigration. And it seems unlikely that limiting immigration would benefit the U.S. economy or unemployment rate.

While at this time, this is currently only a request put forth by Senators and does not indicate what will happen concerning immigration within the coming weeks or months, we will continue to monitor the situation and update you accordingly.

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