US work visa suspension H1B, L1, H2B clarified by White House

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President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks to employees and guests Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis.

The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Will the Trump work visa ban result in jobs moving to other Countries?  Companies fed up with the expensive and bureaucratic US visa system may decide to open offices in Canada and perhaps Mexico.  Other Countries are likely to see an increase in jobs and investment instead of the US.  Many Indians and others with approved US work visa petitions are stranded abroad unable to obtain a visa at the US Embassy or Consulate due to coronavirus COVID-19.  The situation is made even worse by the visa ban.

The US work visa ban is still confusing.  Couldn’t someone draft the executive order in easy to understand plain English?   You can still apply for US work visa petitions at USCIS service centers such as the L1 visa and subject to quotas perhaps the H1B visa and H2B visa.  However, you probably will not be able to work in the US once the petitions have been granted for about six months. 

There will probably be some people who will wish to submit petitions to the USCIS well in advance of entry to the US in about six months time.  With the bureaucracy and time it takes to gather documentation for say an L-1 visa it can take six months to obtain a visa anyway.  If you do not already have an approved H1B visa petition and are subject to the quota you will have to wait until October 2021 to start working anyway.

As previously suggested it may be worth considering the E2 visa and O1 visa in some circumstances.   These US visa categories are not included in the Trump work visa ban.  Only certain nationalities can apply for the E2 visa. Unfortunately Chinese and Indian nationals and many other nationalities cannot apply under the E2 visa scheme.

Donald Trump’s recent US work visa ban was clarified by the White House on Monday, 29 June, following a ‘draft error’ in the original proclamation signed on June 22. According to a Voice of America (VOA) report, White House officials had to clarify who is exempt from the controversial suspension.

The VOA report states that the original order said that ‘anyone who had a non-immigrant visa as of June 24, is exempt from the ban.’ This could have included US tourist visas and other immigration programs not covered by the order.

A revised version of Trump’s proclamation was issued on June 29, which states that ‘only those who already have a visa in the categories targeted by the proclamation, which includes highly skilled workers, trainees, exchange workers and summer laborers, plus those being transferred from within a company from overseas to the US, are exempt.’

Major draft error in US work visa ban order

A number of legal experts said that Trump’s original executive order contained a ‘major draft error’, but acknowledged that it’s not uncommon for such orders to be clarified once they’ve been issued.

The VOA approached the White House for comment and a spokesperson said: “On background, the existing language is fairly standard and is intended to convey that an existing visa holder would not be suspended from traveling on that H1B [skilled worker visa].”

“But some visa holders who were not suspended, like B visa [business] holders, were wondering whether they could acquire and travel on a brand-new visa.  That was not within the intent of the exemption, so we thought it best to clarify,” the spokesperson added.

US work visas suspended until 2021

Trump’s US work visa suspension will run until the end of 2020 and programs will likely reopen in 2021. However, critics of the US President’s temporary ban argue that it will have the opposite effect on Trump’s efforts to protect American workers.

With employment rates soaring in the US and the economy devastated, numerous studies have re-emerged highlighting how US immigration actually keeps American workers in work and boosts the economy.

Immigrants in the US are furious with Trump’s decision. A letter sent to the Information Technology Industry (ITI) Council recently, said: “America’s foreign-born workforce is enabling many Americans to continue to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is playing an essential role ... to keep businesses running securely and people connected.”

US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue described Trump's proclamation as a "severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration" that will actually reduce job creation.

"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. Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation," Donohue said in a statement.

The Migration Policy Institute, a think tank based in Washington D.C., estimates that Trump’s US work visa ban will affect 219,000 temporary workers, while thousands of US businesses will miss out on top talent from around the world.

Workpermit.com can help with US employment-based visas

If you would like to apply for a US work visa – including L1 visasE1 and E2 visasO1 visas, and H1B visas - Workpermit.com can help. 

Workpermit.com is a specialist visa services business with over thirty years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Contact us for further details.  You can also telephone 0344 991 9222.