Trump mulls suspending H1B, other visas

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Washington: US President Donald Trump is considering suspending a number of employment visas including the H-1B, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, in view of the massive unemployment in America due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a media report.

The proposed suspension could extend into the government’s new fiscal year beginning October 1, when many new visas are issued, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, quoting unnamed administration officials.

“That could bar any new H-1B holder outside the country from coming to work until the suspension is lifted, though visa holders already in the country are unlikely to be affected,” the daily reported.

H-1B is the most coveted foreign work visas for technology professionals from India.

Such a decision by the Trump administration is likely to have an adverse impact on thousands of Indian IT professionals. Already a large number of Indians on the H-1B visas have lost their jobs and are headed back home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The White House, however, said that no final decision has been made and the administration is considering various proposals.

“The administration is currently evaluating a wide range of options, formulated by career experts, to protect American workers and job seekers especially disadvantaged and underserved citizens — but no decisions of any kind have been made,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

In addition to the H-1B visas, the suspension could apply to the H-2B visa for short-term seasonal workers, the J-1 visa for short-term workers including camp counselors and au pairs and the L-1 visa for internal company transfers, the financial daily reported.

Meanwhile, the US Chambers of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue on Thursday wrote a letter to Trump, expressing concern over his reported move on temporary work visas. “As the economy rebounds, American businesses will need assurances that they can meet all their workforce needs. To that end, it is crucial that they have access to talent both domestically and from around the world,” Donohue wrote in a letter to Trump.