In its measures to combat unemployment and provide relief to U.S citizens, the presiding US government has been using immigration restrictions as a vital tool. The president passed a proclamation in April imposing various restrictions.
By Nandika Handa
Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic the world of those wishing to work and settle in the US has been tainted with insecurities and multiple questions regarding their possible future. The unemployment resulting from the pandemic has led to scores of people losing their jobs. In fact, unemployment rates have surpassed those ever known in history, according to the statistics provided by the United States Bureau of Labour.
In its measures to combat unemployment and provide relief to U.S citizens, the presiding US government has been using immigration restrictions as a vital tool. The president passed a proclamation in April imposing various restrictions. This was to be reviewed and possibly amended according to how the situation progressed within 60 days.
It has now been stated that the Secretary of Labour and Secretary of Homeland Security have upon examination found that admission of workers under several non-immigrant categories at present will hamper the recovery of the US at the moment and disadvantage U.S citizens in relation to their access to jobs.
There have been statistics released that have shown “17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B non-immigrant visas. During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions”.
It has also been stated that unemployment rate for Americans who complete with certain non-immigrants falling under the J visa category is very high.
Providing this as a background the President has passed a“Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the US Labour Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak”.
The President has decided to issue a temporary ban on H-1 & H-2 and also any dependants who would accompany them.
The L visa category, as well as those accompanying, will also be under suspension. This means that those on transfers from firms from different countries to the U.S and their dependants will be affected.
Interns, teachers, camp counsellors or those on a summer work travel program- who seek to enter on a J visa will also stand affected by this suspension.
Those in the food chain distribution industry as well as those fighting in the war against the pandemic seem exempt from these restrictions.
There has been no mention on F-1 visas that overseas students avail of. Presumably, that will remain unaffected for the moment.
It has clearly been stated that these restrictions will remain in force till the end of 2020 and might be extended further if needed.
With these sorts of restrictions in place, those seeking transfers within their present jobs to the U.S on L-1 and their dependents on L-2 will certainly be severely affected. Intracompany mobility will not be as easy as it used to be. Many firms will need to re-examine the distribution of their jobs and employees too, will be hard hit.
Fortunately, those looking to seek asylum, refugee status, or protection under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment under U.S law will not be affected.
It is estimated that above 500,000 people will now not be able to enter the country.
Those companies in the technology field and their employees will be harshly affected.
It remains to be seen how the U.S economy will be able to manage in certain sectors such as technology, finance and accounting and academics where they are reliant to a great extent on overseas talent. How exactly will that gap be filled when the jobs do arise and will talent already present in the US fill that gap that was the stronghold of those from “overseas”?
(The author is an Independent Immigration Consultant. Views are personal.)