New York: In a huge blow to Indian IT companies, President Donald Trump has suspended H1-B visa along with all temporary work visas and immigration related visas for the rest of 2020.
The visa suspension, which took effect on June 24, promises to open up 525,000 jobs for US workers, a senior administration official said.
The ban will not affect those already in the US on the H1-B and the other work visa categories being put on pause.
Making the announcement, the White House said that Trump wants to reform the immigration system to a “merit-based” one.
The Trump administration will also close loopholes that have allowed employers in the US to replace American workers with low-cost foreign labor, the White House said.
Indians are the single largest group of H1-B visa-holders accounting for nearly 74 per cent of the work visas.
Indian IT companies are amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the US H-1B visa regime, and have since the 1990s cornered a lion’s share of the total number of visas issued each year.
US businesses — particularly in the Silicon Valley — have opposed restrictions on the visas and asserted that they would, in fact, affect the nation’s economy, where immigrants and those on work visas have disproportionately been founders of companies, besides holding up America’s global leadership in technology.
Those criticizing the move as bad policy include Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, Vanita Gupta, president, and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Alice G Wells, till recently Trump administration’s point person for South and Central Asia.
But the most telling criticism came from Senator Lindsay Graham, a close ally of President Trump. He tweeted, “Visa programs allowing American companies to secure qualified, legal labor throughout the world have benefitted economic growth in the United States. Those who believe legal immigration, particularly work visas, are harmful to the American worker do not understand the American economy.”