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Report: Trump to suspend foreign work visas for rest of year with some exceptions

President Donald J. Trump listens as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf delivers remarks at the White House Coronavirus Task Force coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Friday, March 20, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
June 22, 2020

President Donald Trump has prepared an executive order that he plans to sign Monday to suspend foreign worker visas for the remainder of the year.

A Department of Homeland Security guidance on the order, obtained and reported by The Daily Caller, indicated Trump will suspend H-1B and H-2B worker visas, certain non-immigrant “J” visas, and transfer worker “L” visas. The visa suspension will reportedly last until December 31, 2020.

The U.S. Department of State lists J-visas under its exchange visitor program. Those visas cover non-immigrants in the U.S. for work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lists L-visas for intracompany transfer employees, allowing multinational companies with workers in other countries to transfer those employees to offices in the U.S.

The order would make exceptions for lawful permanent residents, foreign workers who are essential to the U.S. food supply, and any spouse or child of a U.S. citizen. The order would also allow Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to admit entry to foreign individuals they deem would be in the national interest.

According to the DHS guidance, the order will also begin steps to transition to a more “merit-based immigration system” and prohibit American companies from replacing laid-off workers with immigrants and by blocking illegal immigrants from obtaining work permits.

“The President is taking decisive action to put American families and workers first in the reopening of the economy and DHS is proudly partnering with him to implement this important executive action,” Wolf said in a statement Monday. “This proclamation ensures Americans aren’t facing unfair competition as our economy begins to safely reopen. American citizens must be first in line for American jobs.”

Trump administration officials previewed the order on Monday, and it is expected to go into effect at midnight Monday.

The order follows an April announcement by President Trump, that he would temporarily suspend immigration into the U.S.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy,” Trump tweeted in April, “as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

The visa suspension plan comes amid mass unemployment numbers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced many industries to slow down work and lay off employees.

The unemployment rate currently sits at about 13.3 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measured the unemployment rate in January at about 3.6 percent before most coronavirus cases emerged in the U.S.