Outgoing president of the United States, Donald Trump on Thursday extended the restriction on work visas and green cards issuance dashing the hopes of millions across the world of starting life in the US.
The president’s action is seen as his last last-minute immigration move before leaving office.
Last April, the Trump administration issued the suspension of work visas and green cards to protect job opportunities for Americans amid a pandemic-stricken economy with a steep in unemployment rate, halting temporary work programmes for immigrants in June.
The order prohibits the issuance of certain immigrant visas to people abroad who seek to move to the U.S. permanently through green card petitions filed by their U.S. family members or prospective employers, according to CNBC network.
Spouses and children, 21 or younger of U.S. citizens are not subject to the restrictions, which also exempt some healthcare workers who intend to combat the coronavirus and immigrant investors who agree to invest more than $1 million in the U.S.
They include new H-1B visas for mostly workers in tech companies, H-2B visas for seasonal workers, J work and education exchange visitor visas and L executive transfer visas.
Last October, a San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge, Jeffrey White, barred the Trump administration from applying the temporary work visa restrictions to foreign workers hired by several major U.S. companies, CNBC reported.
The bans, originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, had been prolonged to elapse in March, extending to the first term of President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump defended the move as necessary to prevent new immigrants and temporary workers from competing with Americans for jobs during the pandemic-induced recession.
“Allowing immigrant workers into the country will pose a risk of displacing and disadvantaging U.S. workers during the economic recovery following the covid-19 outbreak,” Trump wrote in Thursday’s proclamation.
“The effects of COVID-19 on the United States labor market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern.”
The surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. since June, he said, had put a strain on businesses in the country, cutting jobs for American citizens.
Though during his campaigns, Biden had pledged to overturn some of Trump’s immigration agenda, he had yet to say whether he intends to rescind the visa restrictions anytime soon.
But advocates for immigrants are calling on Biden to revoke the visa limits and other “unnecessary” immigration policies starting in January, according to a report by CNN.