Restrictions on H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers
On Monday, the White House announced new restrictions on some types of work visas to protect U.S. workers suffering from job losses resulting from the pandemic of COVID-19. President Donald Trump confirmed that he’s extending the 60-day ban on new immigrants and suspending certain immigrant worker programs until the end of the year, including H-1B visas for those in specialized fields such as technology, H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas for cultural exchange students and L visas, often used for companies to relocate workers to the U.S.
A decision that will hit hard India. One type of visa freeze by Trump is most often used by software engineers and provoked dismay and disbelief in India, citizens of which have come by the hundreds to work on technology projects in the United States. Indians account for 75% of visa applications under the H-1B program for skilled workers, according to the latest government data. Nearly 85,000 immigrants are admitted on H-1Bs every year.The move was condemned by American technology companies that rely on the program for their workforces. “The Washington Post” reported, quoting Sundar Pichai, the Indian American chief executive of Google.
“The Labor Department will look at ways to make work visas more effective and bring in more skilled workers”.U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, said he disagreed with the move, calling it “too broad.” In India, Hemant Mohapatra, a partner at the venture capital firm Lightspeed India, called on professionals to come back to India, describing the ban as a “personal betrayal.”SeveralIndia foreign workers in the United States were stranded outside the country or separated from their families because of flight bans and visa processing delays during the new coronavirus pandemic. Trump administration’s order has deepened the uncertainty around their future.
Nasscom, a trade association in the Indian information technology industry, called the order “misguided and harmful to the US economy.”“H-1B visas — from their inception and till today — fulfil a critical skills gap in the U.S. economy and make it more competitive,” said Shivendra Singh, vice president of global trade at NASSCOM. H-1B workers, he said, are also engaged in managing essential services in covid-19 recovery, such as hospitals,cybersecurity, online education and e-commerce. Some of “the backbone and critical infrastructure is being managed by the technology workers on H-1B.”
U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia says the Trump administration’s new restrictions on temporary work visas are intended to create jobs and opportunities for American workers, not limit employers’ ability to recruit skilled foreign workers. “The Labor Department will look at ways to make work visas more effective and bring in more skilled workers”. Scalia added, reaffirming that immigration has played an important role in U.S. history and will continue to be important, even if fewer workers will be allowed in on visas.