Four U.S. senators have sent a letter to President Trump that asks for a suspension of all new guest worker visas, including the H-1B, for at least the next 60 days.
News of the letter first appeared in Politico. “Given the extreme lack of available jobs for American job-seekers as portions of our economic begin to reopen, it defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for such limited employment,” reads one section. The letter’s signers are senators Tom Cotton (R-ARK.), Ted Cruz (R-TX.), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The guest worker visas in question would include H-1Bs, H-2Bs, and EB-5 visas. The letter also asks for the suspension to potentially stay in place for either an additional year or until employment returns to non-pandemic levels (“whichever comes first”).
“There is no reason why unemployed Americans and recent college graduates should have to compete in such a limited job market against an influx of additional H-1B workers, most of whom work in business, technology, or STEM fields,” the letter added. “Temporarily suspending the issuance of new H-1B visas would also protect the hundreds of thousands of H-1B workers and their families already working in the United States—workers who could otherwise be subject to deportation if they are laid off for more than 60 days.”
Whether or not Trump follows the letter’s suggestions, it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has already slowed down H-1B processing by 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 recent note. “Data entry and notice generation will be delayed until at least May 1, 2020.”
In addition, the long-term rate of H-1B denials remains elevated, especially among business-services and consulting firms that H-1B critics feel abuse the visa to onboard talent at artificially suppressed prices.
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