Policy Update: New Freeze on Foreign Workers

On June 22nd, the Trump administration announced an extension of the ban on green cards issued outside of the United States until the end of 2020. In addition, many temporary work visas have been added to the freeze. This comes after the 60-day ban announced in April was set to expire on Monday, and appears to be a response to those who argued that the president’s previous actions weren’t strong enough.


The Trump administration says that by freezing green cards and work visas, they are freeing up jobs for approximately 525,000 Americans who need them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A senior official claimed on a phone call that the Trump administration’s goal is to get the “best and the brightest into the country,” according to BBC News. The American Civil Liberties Union claims the administration is exploiting the pandemic in order to “reshape immigration law, while superseding Congress.” Businesses are also speaking out against the freeze, warning that they will need to have workers after the economy rebounds, both from the United States and abroad.


Who is impacted by the ban?

  • H-1B visas: These types of visas are used by technology companies for workers and their families.

  • L visas: Managers and key employees of multinational corporations are included in these visas.

  • Most H-2B visas: These visas are for non-agricultural seasonal workers, such as those in the hospitality industry.

  • Restrictions on J-1 short term exchange visas: University students and au pairs are included in these visas.


Who is exempt from the ban?

  • Existing visa holders are expected to be exempt.

  • Agricultural, healthcare, and food processing workers are exempt.

  • Professors and scholars are exempt.

  • Other J-1 visa holders can request exemptions.





Riechmann, Deb, and Elliot Spagat. Citing COVID-19, Trump Administration Extends Visa Ban. 22 June 2020, time.com/5857490/trump-work-visa-green-card-ban-coronavirus/.

Trump Targets Foreign Workers with New Visa Freeze. 23 June 2020, www.bbc.com/news/business-53145317.


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