Trump extending immigration ban for ‘America first’ recovery from COVID-19

WASHINGTON — President Trump will sign an executive order on Monday suspending several popular working visas until the end of the year — extending an order introduced at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

The new restrictions will apply to a host of employment-based visas and the administration estimates the restriction will free up as many as 525,000 jobs for Americans between now and the end of 2020, a senior administration official said, with more than 21 million people out of work, according to May data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The ban on new visas applies to H-1B visas, which are used by major American technology companies, and their immediate families, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas for exchange students and L-1 visas for managers of multinational corporations.

The extended ban will also apply to H-2B visas for short-term seasonal workers in other non-farm jobs such as landscaping and J-1 visas for short-term workers including nannies and young people on gap years from college.

There will be exemptions for food processing workers, which make up about 15 percent of H-2B visas, the official said. Health care workers assisting with the coronavirus fight will continue to be spared from the green-card freeze, though their exemption will be narrower.

The measures, described by the administration official as an “American first recovery,” will not apply to people already in the United States, and had been anticipated for several weeks.

Trump previously vowed to suspend all immigration to the United States but left guest worker programs in place which apply to immigrants who work on the nation’s farms and meat processing plants, providing crucial labor.

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