The Trump administration announced Monday a suspension of new temporary employment-based visas at least through the end of this year.
The sweeping order will halt temporary visas for workers in specialized fields and many seasonal workers. Multinational companies will also be prohibited from transferring foreign employees to temporarily work in the United States.
New restrictions will take effect June 24 and will only apply to people outside of the United States who have not yet secured a visa.
The administration says the restrictions are a response to high unemployment that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Officials say the new rule could keep out as many as half a million workers foreign workers this year.
Before the new move, the Trump administration has used the coronavirus as justification to continue its anti-immigration agenda with increasingly draconian rules. Earlier, the administration closed the Southern border to all immigrants, making few exceptions for asylum seekers.
Business leaders, especially those in the tech industry, have strongly criticized the move. Companies including Google, Apple, Tesla, and others that rely on visa programs to employ thousands of people have all spoken out against the rule.
“Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream. There is no new prosperity without both. Deeply disappointed by this proclamation,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote on Twitter.
After Trump’s announcement, the Department of Homeland Security also released a new rule that bars asylum seekers who crossed the border illegally from seeking work authorization.
“It’ll require most asylum seekers to rely on charity or work under the table to survive,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, said to CNN.
Experts say the restriction on skilled workers will be counterproductive in the administration’s proclaimed attempt to bolster the economy and create new jobs.
“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” Thomas Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said to The New York Times.
Sources: CNN 06/22/20; The New York Times 06/22/20; CNBC 06/23/20