On June 22nd, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order, extending his April 22nd order, suspending the processing of employment-based visas and immigrant visas (green cards) for the remainder of 2020, with potential to be extended further. The justification or purpose of this order is to repair the economy and protect jobs for Americans. The Executive Order takes effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM EDT and expires on December 31, 2020.
As unemployment rates in the U.S. spike at approximately 13% due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration believe that placing a limit on immigrants entering the U.S. during the pandemic will help American workers get back to work. The goal is to protect over 525,000 jobs caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Since Trump has taken office, he vowed to make sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system and we have definitely seen measures to make this happen. Trump has banned nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries from obtaining visas.
This current order is an extension of his April proclamation which targeted foreign nationals outside the U.S. seeking to immigration to the U.S.
Which Non-Immigrant Visas are Included:
- L-1 Intracompany Transferees
- H-1B specialty occupations and dependent H-4 visas
- J-1 visas for exchange visitors
- H-2B’s for non-agricultural workers
Who is Exempt?
- The new order does not affect those who are already in the U.S., only those outside the U.S. without a valid visa
- Does not affect foreign nationals outside the U.S. who have a valid H, L or J visa in their passport
- Not applicable to individuals who entry is in the national interest
- Not applicable to essential workers in the food supply chain, including H-2A agricultural workers
- Not applicable to essential workers in the health care industry involved in treating coronavirus patients
- Not applicable to lawful permanent residents, spouses, or children of U.S. citizens
- Does not apply to asylum-seekers
Who Will this Affect?
First, other than spouses and children of U.S. citizens, this will place a significant delay in families being reunited until the new year and potentially longer. Primarily, these green cards are processed at U.S. consulates abroad. Second, the extension of this order will affect primarily H-1B visas, which brings in about 85,000 new workers each year, predominately in the tech sector. In addition, the country most affected is India who holds 75% of H-1B visas. The H-1B visa is very important to employers seeking specialized skilled workers and is issued to up to 85,000 people per year. It allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge, mainly in the tech sector and opens up in October, at the beginning of the national fiscal calendar. With H-1B season approaching and the unavailability of H-1B visas, both employers who are facing labour shortages, and foreign nationals looking for the chance to work in the U.S., will be negatively affected.
With H-1B visas suspended, foreign nationals will be unable to enter the U.S. and will therefore, will have less opportunities to obtain a green card. Another viable option is to explore options to immigrate to Canada to obtain permanent residence. Many former H-1B holders, especially Indian nationals, immigrate to Canada because of their knowledge of English, their high levels of education and their professional work experience. Since many Indian nationals in the U.S. are employed in the Tech industry, they are amongst those who would qualify under either the Express Entry or Provincial Nomination program.
In fact, due to Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, H-1B denials have been on the rise. This coupled with the difficulty and delay of obtaining green cards under the Trump administration, educated Indians are moving to Canada at an astonishing rate, according to a recent Forbes article. Statistics show that the number of Indians obtaining Canadian permanent residence has doubled since 2016 and from 2016 to 2019, the number of Indians admitted to Canada rose 105%. , In fact, residents of the U.S. were the third-leading source of successful Express Entry candidates in 2018, while Indian citizens were the number one source of talent. In other words, a significant share of those successful under Express Entry are Indian citizens who submit their Canadian immigration applications while living in the U.S.
Under Canada’s Express Entry program, rather than waiting decades for a green card, many foreign nationals are eligible for Canadian permanent residence in 6 MONTHS! This is incredible news. Foreign nationals who wish to live and work in North America should consider Canada as an alternative to the U.S.
Unlike the U.S., there is no formal “cap” on the number of foreign workers who are admitted into Canada each year for temporary employment purposes. Canada is not limiting work visas for essential occupations, despite due COVID-19 related unemployment in the country. In addition, under many Canadian immigration programs, such as Express Entry, a job offer or employer sponsorship is not required, whereas the H-1B visa does.
Canada offers many opportunities for foreign nationals to take advantage of such as competitive careers, a lower cost of living, universal healthcare, great education system and lower levels of crime in major metropolitan areas.
Looking for alternatives to immigrate to North America? Please contact our office to discuss any immigration issue you may have.
The U.S. will block visas for a wide variety of jobs, including those for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, computer programmers and other skilled workers who enter the country under the H-1B visa, as well as those for seasonal workers in the hospitality industry, students on work-study summer programs and au pairs who arrive under other auspices.
The order also restricts the ability of American companies with global operations and international companies with U.S. branches to transfer foreign executives and other employees to the United States for months or yearslong stints. And it blocks the spouses of foreigners who are employed at companies in the United States.
Officials said the ban on worker visas, combined with extending restrictions on the issuance of new green cards, would keep as many as 525,000 foreign workers out of the country for the rest of the year.