Previously announced in April and June months of 2020, the suspension of H-1B visas and other work visas were to expire on 31st December but Donald Trump has surprised the visa-seeking foreign workers and their employers with the newly announced extension until March 31st, 2021. The reason behind this extension was explained by him to be the impact of Covid-19 on the labor market and the decision is to protect American workers while the therapeutics and vaccines against the virus are being made available.
The extension of the visa freeze will strongly affect the technology companies who usually hire employees from foreign countries like China and India, even though the freeze did not cause serious effects because of the availability of employees working remotely. If necessary, the extension may go beyond March 31st according to the latest proclamation of Trump that, “Moreover, actions such as States’ continued imposition of restrictions on businesses still affect the number of workers that can be hired as compared with February of 2020”.
Immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta responded to Donald Trump’s announcement about the extension of visa suspension that, “The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to significantly disrupt Americans’ livelihoods. While the November overall unemployment rate in the US of 6.7% reflects a marked decline from its April high, there were still 9,834,000 fewer seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in November than in February of 2020” with the post on Twitter that, “The visa ban extension contradicts its rationale to protect US jobs after Trump’s recent message that the unemployment rate is below 6.7%. It is Trump’s last gasp to hurt immigration that benefits the US and is promoting economic recovery”.
There were several moves to lift the ban on H-1B, L-1 and other non-immigrant visas, including the preliminary injunction applicable to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit issued by a US judge that included members of the National Retail Federation, the National Association of Manufacturers, Intrax, Technet and the US Chamber of Commerce that represents companies such as Google, Facebook and Uber. The hearing for the appeal from the US Department of Justice was scheduled for January 1, 2021.