US likely to ban H-1B visas in a bid to counter unemployment

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    The United States of America is likely to put a temporary ban on the issuing process of some work-based visas like the widely popular H-1B as well as visas for students and work authorisation that accompanies them, which may lead to distress among foreign students and professionals in the country. The move is reportedly being taken due to the high level of unemployment in the country, which is a direct effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak, which is spreading like wildfire across the world.

    The H-1B, which is a non-immigrant visa, allows companies in the US to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. As many as 500,000 migrant workers are employed in the US on an H-1B visa status. The H-1B visa is also especially popular among highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

    “The president’s immigration advisers are drawing up plans for an upcoming executive order, likely this month, that would ban the issuance of some new temporary, work-based visas,” The Wall Street Journal had reported on Friday, “The order is expected to focus on visa categories including the H-1B, designed for highly skilled workers, and the H-2B, for seasonal migrant workers, as well as student visas and the work authorization that accompanies them.”

    However, the publication further stated that an official decision in this regard has not been reached yet, and the suspension of visas could range from staying entire visa categories to creating incentives for hiring Americans in the industries hit hardest by the layoffs.

    Notably, a few Republican Senators had written to US President Donald Trump on Thursday urging him to suspend all the new guest worker visas for 60 days and some of its categories, including the H-1B visa, for at least the next year or until unemployment figures return to normal levels in the country.

    More than 33 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the US economy to a standstill. The White House officials predict that the country’s economy is likely to grow at negative 15-20% in the second quarter.

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the latest monthly jobs report released on Friday put the unemployment rate in the US for the month of April at 14.7% which was the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the Amercian history. 

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