How Will Trump’s Immigration Ban Impact the H-1B Visa?

On April 22, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation “suspending entry of immigrants who present risk to the U.S. labor market” during the COVID-19 pandemic. How will that proclamation impact tech companies, particularly those that heavily leverage the H-1B visa?

The short answer: Probably not very much, at least when it comes to H-1B. 

“Existing immigrant visa processing protections are inadequate for recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak,” reads the proclamation. “The vast majority of immigrant visa categories do not require employers to account for displacement of United States workers.” Paired with Trump’s April 20 Tweet that immigration into the U.S. would be “temporarily” suspended, it seemed that the U.S. government was on the verge of a sweeping ban on all immigrants.

However, the proclamation features some pretty extensive carve-outs. For starters, it will expire in 60 days, at which point it could be modified or renewed; in also primarily targets those outside the country who are currently seeking green cards. Those already in the U.S., and those on non-immigrant visas such as the H-1B, are exempt. In addition, immigrant physicians and nurses, as well as those whose research is “intended to combat the spread of COVID-19,” will be allowed in. 

Trump could well issue another order that would focus on restricting other visas and types of immigration—but given the fast-moving and multi-front nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen what kinds of executive orders he might produce next.

In the meantime, the pandemic has reportedly forced significant delays into the processing of this year’s H-1B visas, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). “Beginning with the first day of filing, April 1, 2020, we will not immediately enter data for FY 2021 cap-subject petitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and required health and safety protocols,” read the agency’s note. “Data entry and notice generation will be delayed until at least May 1, 2020.”

Although a record number of H-1B applications (275,000) were filed with USCIS’s new electronic pre-registration system for the 2020-21 fiscal year, the rate of H-1B denials has remained elevated for the duration of the Trump administration. For example, for all four quarters of fiscal year 2019, denial rates rose for H-1B petitions for initial employment. Consulting and “business services” firms that tend to heavily use the H-1B visa have been particularly hard-hit by this trend. 

In other words, Trump’s initial immigration action ended up much more narrowly focused than some critics of the H-1B system might have hoped. However, the H-1B system as a whole still faces slowdowns from a variety of factors—which could complicate things for those companies that feel they need talent on the visa. 

29 Responses to “How Will Trump’s Immigration Ban Impact the H-1B Visa?”

  1. 60 day ban is not going to affect anybody anyway because unemployment is not going to be away in 60 days as country takes longer time than 60 days to be back.
    There are no international flights, so even for those who desperately wanted to come at any cost cannot be here. I don’t think there will be any impact on H-1B with this ban. Time for everyone to think that their home country is good for them and their families.

    • America

      Yes, This will effect h1-b workers, many off them will need to provide that they are displacing american workers…. A person is labor certificate and is waiting for 10 to 12 years for green card in that 10 to 12 wait time a person profession is not longer in demand or the profession is no longer considered Essen-tail role, because of American graduates coming out to the market.

  2. i am not sure whats the actual purpose of this “Do nothing” EO.

    instead he should have simply put a pause on importing thousands of new H1b/H2b/L1 from outside US and put country cap on h1b/H2b/L1.

    • gauri

      Yes,i’m agreed with mike,they have to go back their own country .government have to suspended all H 1B Visa which one issued from 2019 .specially those people who bring there relatives to usa on H1B Visa.US citizens cant get jobs because of that people.

      • Numan

        i totally agree that US citizens cant get jobs because of fake H1b’s.. There is allot of Indian consultancies who only hire students make their fake resumes with 5-6 years of experience and place them with their references and got them H1b. I personally know that this is happening and no one care

  3. The short answer: Probably not very much, at least when it comes to H-1B.
    — Then it’s not enough. With unemployment estimated to soon be 20%, importing low wage workers with dubious degrees and experience is wrong.
    Further, current visas should be revoked until such time that unemployment numbers stabilize, if ever.

  4. The economy is headed over a cliff, at least for the next several months. Americans are worried about keeping their tech jobs if they still have a job. The government should not allow foreign workers to take American jobs period for the foreseeable future!

    • Richard

      Tech jobs? Americans are not ready to take up jobs in Walmart or as lawn mower, because it requires hard labor and no time for beer. People in America will understand what I am saying

      • Why is the whole world worried about what happens to jobs in America? They have to find jobs in their own country. These are the same people who bad mouth Americans. How many h1bs volunteering during this crisis?

  5. VinoTinto

    According to the Economic times of India: “The companies facing the hardest decisions, though, are those reducing staff in response to the pandemic. Some are choosing to furlough U.S.-born workers and fire foreign employees whose visas require them to be paid. Others are choosing to keep H-1B workers on staff to maintain their legal status, while firing U.S. workers.

    Read more at:
    https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/visa-and-immigration/over-200000-h-1b-workers-could-lose-legal-status-by-june/articleshow/75441460.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

    The Indian born tech workers in positions of power are not worried in the least about the job security of Indians. They know that H1B’s and GC holders will be provided preference in the majority of firings/furlough cases. Take a look at this upbeat message from VMware’s Indian COO. https://twitter.com/spoonen/status/1254912151036162049/photo/1
    https://twitter.com/spoonen/status/361883941440987137?lang=en

  6. I wonder how long a delay it would take for normal US companies to use US workers, perhaps even doing a little training. Of course some of those outsourcing companies will hire Indian or not at all.

  7. Rocky

    First of all, you guys have to understand that H1B is not replacing american workers, one should be granted H1B only when employer is unable to find citizen or permanent resident for particular job. Employer has to prove with all legal document then only then can get approved or denied for H1B. So for all jobs Americans get preference first compare to H1B.
    If you have ability then you will get job, none of H1B can take your job.

    • Milly

      @rocky Either you drank the kool-aid or you are being deliberately obtuse. The fraud is rampant.
      You can even look on DICE itself – search for H1b jobs and you will see listings where the job requirements specify they want candidates who are on visas ONLY.

    • Billy

      @rocky, they will hire who they want, with a master’s degree of course, with 5-6 years of “experience” and who has no idea what a ‘for loop’ is.

  8. Lora Yang

    This H1B’s situation cannot be avoided by any Dems or Republicans.
    How far can they impose political rules or powers on private Corporations.

    Shame on Corporate America in the name of globalization to deprive Americans.
    Americans are far more talented, loyal and committed to their jobs. Look at NASA.
    The equation is 1 US Dollar = 76 India Rupees.

    It is a known fact the H1B from outside of USA and the MS Students from no name brand Universities fill the Technology jobs with fake experience, dummy interview screening and on the job support from India an external Resource connecting to Corporate Servers and performing the Work .

  9. gauri

    Yes,i’m agreed with mike,they have to go back their own country .government have to suspended all H 1B Visa which one issued from 2019 .specially those people who bring there relatives to usa on H1B Visa.US citizens cant get jobs because of that people.

    • Tech-Guy

      @Gauri – By reading your stupid comments shows that you are not really Native American, I can say that by your stupid Engish.I doubt you are actually an illegal immigrant into USA Get the fish off. Only stupid and unskilled people worry about finding a job. Its the Tax payers and immigrants that has made America what it is now.So stop sulking and get ready to be kicked out of the country

  10. MICHAEL

    Gentlemen, I was once on a H1B and and became a US citizen. It took me 10 years to get green card and another 5 years to become a US citizen. I had been through similar uncertain situations when my H1B was up for renewal and and there was 2008 economic depression. My advise to those on H1B is be prepared mentally, until you become a citizen of a country, you are onlyu a alien and your status will be a non-immigrant alien and when you become a green card holder it changes to “permanent resident alien”. You are still a alien and you do not belong to the country and you have a little say on many things. US citizens get a preference on jobs and it would be the same in your countries that your citizens would be given priority. Saying that prepare mentally that the country’s regulations on the immigration can change at any time considering the unemployment and economic situation at that time and until you have become a US citizen, be prepared to return to your country. It’s not the end of the world. Being IT professionals, there Jobs everywhere. I my self am planning to travel to different parts of the world and take up jobs there and experience different places and cultures. Expand your borders and be optimistic and don’t be frustrated.

  11. Sanan

    If America bans H1B, total economy of the country will be collapsed because most of the industries in USA are run by technically highly qualified immigrants. IT industry is one of the major revenue earners in USA who engages experts from India who are highly skilled and local populace are not in a position to displace them at a given notice. Secondly the country will also lose millions in tax revenues, because most of the highly qualified immigrants from India as well as China pay huge amounts of tax to the country every year. Similarly all other technology driven industries will also suffer because most of the technical staff in these industries are highly qualified skilled immigrants. It goes for health industry also. Therefore, a ban in Visa by USA is going to have a huge financial implication to USA which will only increase the recessionary trend there.

    • Billy

      You are right Sanan, but just to some degree. In the first day, I stepped into the building of the company I work for, I found out that 85 % were from South Asia. After 6 months I concluded that about 50 % are not highly qualified workforce as claimed when hired. Asked someone, and have been told – oh… consulting companies, they add 5-6 years experience to your resume right out of the b.. and push you here. After 6 more months figured that chances to grow are low if you aren’t South Asian. I am not sure about a bunch of architects, pm’s, even directors if they have a degree in anything at all. Oh.. sorry, maybe WebEx. This is happening in the US. The pipeline works perfectly! Where are we heading? Viva El nepotism!

      • nimith

        @Billy, i read your comments in the above messages. You are blaming H1bs and IT consulting companies for replacing US citizens. You are missing the whole point here.
        Have you heard demand and supply concept? that is in play here. If US corporations change their strategy to use consulting companies, the H1b program will loose steam.You need ask US government to make rules to constrain Corporations, if they dont agree, then there needs to be consequences for that. Instead you are blaming H1bs who are legal, tax paying workers who don’t get to use any government safety nets like unemployment, Food stamps, rental assistance, etc, They don’t go on strike or damage public property. Only mistake they have done is to try and make their life better. It is time for you to think straight and see what is really wrong with the immigration than just letting your frustration on H1bs.