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Trump’s new visa restrictions could affect 240,000 people

Andrew Jenkins and Krista York of Minnesota were set to marry Aug. 20 at the Cathedral of St. Paul. After the coronavirus struck, Jenkins, who is British, lost his job as a market research analyst. The Trump administration is unlikely to allow laid-off holders of H-1B and other work visas to extend their stay in the country.Jenn Ackerman/New York Times

President Trump’s plan to restrict employment-based visas could affect 240,000 people seeking to work in the United States in industries from technology to finance to hospitality.

Trump said on Fox News Saturday that he will announce new restrictions that won’t affect certain workers already in the United States.

There will be few exclusions, Trump said, when asked about upcoming rules on several visa categories, including the H-1B program for highly skilled workers, the L-1 program for managers transferring within their companies, and H-2B visas for nonagricultural temporary workers.

“In some cases you have to have exclusions,” he said. “You need them for big businesses where they have certain people that have been coming in for a long time.”


One possibility is to restrict people from entering the country on visa categories including the H-1B program for as long as 180 days, Bloomberg News reported June 12. Workers who were granted those visas but remain outside the country may not be able to enter until the order expires.

The move would affect hundreds of companies and thousands of people: In fiscal year 2019, the H-1B visa was awarded to about 133,000 workers starting initial employment with a company. More than 12,000 people were granted L-1 visas in initial applications, and more than 98,000 got H-2B visas. Barring exclusions, Trump’s plan could affect more than 240,000 applicants based just on these three categories.

Trump previously tweeted that he planned to “temporarily suspend immigration into the US.” Industry groups, such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Industry Council, wrote to Trump to express concerns that restrictions would disrupt business and hamper growth.

For a few years, the administration has been moving to tighten the H-1B program, and the approval rate for applications has fallen. The technology industry has relied on H-1B visas to hire foreign talent, particularly in science and engineering. Critics say some companies have abused the program and displaced Americans.