The White House announced June 22 it would extend a ban on several kinds of new visas through the end of 2020. The move extends an executive order issued April 21 that banned new visas for 60 days and was set to expire the same day it was extended. The extended ban will impact visas for skilled workers (H-1B), nonagricultural seasonal workers (H-2B), exchange students (J-1) and managers of multinational corporations (L-1).
Food processing employees and health care workers assisting with COVID-19 relief efforts are exempt from the order, which is opposed by major tech companies and the United States Chamber of Commerce. An anonymous White House official cited by Reuters claimed the suspension would open up more than 500,000 jobs for U.S. workers to help the United States economy recover from the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has seen millions apply for unemployment benefits since late March.
The National Association for Manufacturers issued a strongly-worded statement June 22 condemning the order. “Leaders should be working to strengthen manufacturing in the United States, but these actions will make our industry unquestionably weaker,” wrote NAM CEO Jay Timmons.
In addition to the current, COVID-19 related recession, manufacturing currently suffers from a “skills gap” caused by lack of access to employees with the skills desired by manufacturing employers. Since the order issued June 22 restricts countries from hiring skilled employees form elsewhere, manufacturers may have to redouble efforts to find employees with those skills domestically.
“The reality is the visa programs targeted by this executive order boost manufacturing in America and support job creation. We will lose talented individuals to other countries, giving them an added advantage in competing against us.” He closed the statement by asking Congress to comprehensively reform the country’s immigration laws.