Comments by Sanwar Ali:
The Trump work visa ban has been highly controversial, with a number of legal challenges against the ban. On 1st October a judge ruled that visa processing could start again in many cases for H1B, L1 and J1 visas and certain other US visas.
Petitions can still be submitted and processed at USCIS service centers, despite the "work visa ban". Donald Trump only has about two weeks to the end of his presidency. What will happen when he leaves and Biden takes over?
In April 2020 restrictions on immigration were enacted, with trump signing an immigration proclamation which focused on migrants legally looking to immigrate to the US. In June 2020, these restrictions were extended to temporary work visas.
US work visa restrictions extended by a further 90-days
On 31st December 2020, Trump made the decision to extend the period of the current restrictions on immigration and US work visas by a further 90-days, which will carry on past the time he is due to leave office. Trump cites that this decision was made in order to stop migrant workers from competing with American citizens for job opportunities, which have been dramatically reduced due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The extension to the restrictions means that those outside of the US who were waiting to be issued with an immigration visa based on green card applications, submitted by spouses or employers, will have to keep waiting. It also means that the diversity visa lottery has come to a halt, a programme that allowed those from under represented countries to move to the US. More than 9,000 individuals who won the lottery in 2020 remain unable to make the move due to the extension of the proclamation. Temporary US work visas, including H-1B and H-2B visas, are also halted consequently.
Ban on immigration and work visas not about the pandemic
It has been suggested that the Trump Administration are using the pandemic as a cover for their real agenda, to limit immigration to the US, which has been their goal since the start of Trumps time in office. On the day of the extension, Donald Trump had posted a video discussing the strength of the US economy and how the employment rate is set to get lower than the current figure of 6.7% which is “... contradictory for the president”, stated CNN. Comparing unemployment rates over the years indicate that it is prodigious to place a ban on immigration consequent on the unemployment rate, and Trump has ignored such figures in putting these restrictions in place. There is no evidence to support the claim that immigration influences the unemployment rate.
Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stated that “It's not a rational or reasonable approach to the stated goals of what they're trying to achieve, which only points to the underlying purpose of effectuating the President's campaign goals of cutting off immigration,".
President-elect, Joe Biden, criticised the decision but has still not yet made comments on whether he plans to reverse the decision when he takes his seat in office.
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