Trump Suspends H-1B, Other Visas Temporarily

President Trump has temporarily suspended new work visas, including the H-1B. The suspension, which will last throughout the rest of 2020, did not come as a surprise to those watching the administration. However, tech firms that depend on the H-1B to source talent may find themselves scrambling for an alternative solution.

The order is a sweeping one, and also curtails companies’ abilities to bring in executives in addition to highly technical workers. In his executive order, Trump cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a key reason behind the move.

“Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy,” he wrote. “But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”

He added: “Assuming the conclusion of the economic contraction, the United States economy will likely require several months to return to pre-contraction economic output, and additional months to restore stable labor demand.  In light of the above, I have determined that the entry, through December 31, 2020, of certain aliens as immigrants and nonimmigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Predictably, advocates of the H-1B system were dismayed by the move. “This is a full-frontal attack on American innovation and our nation’s ability to benefit from attracting talent from around the world,” Todd Schulte, the president of pro-immigration nonprofit, told The New York Times.

Whether the ban will extend past the end of the year will almost certainly hinge on the outcome of the 2020 election.

Beyond the Ban: Dipping Denials

Once the ban is lifted, of course, will things return to “business as usual”? Over the course of the Trump administration, the rate of denials for H-1B petitions has steadily crept up. Now, some tweaks to legislation could put that high denial rate at risk.

First, some backstory on this aspect of things. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has denied an increasing number of H-1B visa applications over the past few years. That includes petitions for initial employment

As well as petitions for continuing employment (hat tip to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) for doing some of the hard analytics behind this):

However, after a somewhat high-profile legal battle with the ITServe Alliance, USCIS has issued a new policy memo and rescinded two others. The new memo, dated June 17, adjusts petitioners’ requests for evidence, including proof that a particular job exists at the time of filing. Nor do employers necessarily need to provide evidence of specific day-to-day assignments. 

“If the petitioner’s attestations and supporting documentation meet this standard [of establishing that employment exists], then the officer should not request additional evidence and should approve the petition, provided all other eligibility requirements are met by a preponderance of the evidence,” the memo states at one point. 

According to a Forbes article by Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, one of the rescinded memos (the “Neufeld” memo) removes a restrictive test to determine proper employer-employee relationships. The article also provides a handy breakdown of how these three memos, by their inclusion and absence, might fundamentally change the amount of evidence that companies actually need to successfully petition for H-1B visas.

The total impact of all this: The rate of H-1B denials may gradually go down once the White House eases its suspension. Other scuttlebutt suggests that the White House could attempt to restrict the long-term prospects of the H-1B program in other ways, such as raising the minimum required wage to $250,000. Those steps, however, may be met with significant legal challenges.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story accidentally substituted “2021” for “2020.”

57 Responses to “Trump Suspends H-1B, Other Visas Temporarily”

  1. I’m pleased at the move to stop the H1b program. It has been a major thorn in the necks of American IT pros for far, far too many years!!

    We all know it’s all about the money.

    US businesses, immigration law firms, Washington DC business lobbies and India backed business lobbies have screwed American IT pros for over 25 years.

    Yes, they’ll sue. F—k ‘em. It’s now time to double and triple hourly rates to US companies.

  2. Marite

    Am I unnecessarily worried about recruiters contacting me with jobs matching my skills, asking for my CV and then they do not respond? Their emails usually ask for various personal IDs which should not even be disclosed at the point of asking if I am interested in the job such as my US Passport, Drivers license. Sounds to me a bit premature considering…?

    Another question I have is how do I even know that they are legitimate? Lastly, how would I even know if they aren’t just storing away my CV and hiding my availability to employers so they can justify sending applications of their colleagues in India?

    • Nuance

      They are just collecting info to file an LCA. The client who is posting the position will actually file the LCA so that they can petition for H1B or OPT. If you are missing even ONE criteria for that position or if you say that you will NOT relocate then thats all they need from you and the client can then assert that they made a “good faith” attemp to locate a candidate for that position. This is why most people never hear from that recruiter again, they are inadvertantly giving the recruiter what they need and the recruiter moves on.

      • Marite

        Makes sense what you just explained. This is really gross if that is what they are doing. I am so happy when an american recruiter contacts me as everything is so clear and straightforward with most of them.

      • Marite

        Like this:
        If you look at the page all the way to the end, you will see that Kevin Patel and Ed Morgan share the same picture. How bad is this?

        I also checked Panzer Solutions LLC. It seems that it was founded by somebody who came in many years ago as an H1B and has created this recruiting agency after. They are the ones that contacted me – a couple of them – or who knows maybe its the same person now seeing that they just make up their names. H1B mafia I call it.

  3. Unbelievable … it’s got soooo far out of hand for so long. I bet that most will stay because it is “temporary” … if they do return, you expect computer-support fraud to skyrocket … it’s what they do when they return to their “culturally superior” origins.

  4. RobbCV

    The H1B degraded and destroyed the jobs and salary of many people,for cheap labor and SIMPLE OUTSOURCE profits for a few companies. While destroying inovation, and preventing highly skilled local educated people from getting started in the pipeline,even with phD. Its too late, the system is rotten at the bottom and in the core,once they are in a management position,they always hire there own. The entire H1B should be SHUTDOWN,there never was a NEED, there is not a NEED, and they can go work at home,fix there own country problems. We dont need or Want them here, only the SHAREHOLDERS and the CHEAP CEO’s, now we have 8 CEO’s that are puppets for the Board, because they are CHEAP and OBEDIENT. its too late to fix it. The entry teer is ROTTEN…

  5. Make sure to contact your representatives ASAP. You know the lobbyists are already in gear trying to stop this. Let your senators and congressmen know this is a long-awaited and welcome respite. Tell them how you and your family has been affected. Don’t forget to send emails to follow up and include the Contact the election campaigns of your candidates also and tell them how your feel too.
    What US STEM workers do NOT have is the organizating that the lobbyists and body shops have and they are flooding in-boxes with their complaints. Remind your represenatives who actually can vote.

  6. Nuance

    -Milly is the only one I know of. There are a lot of people who have been affected but media and the lobbyists have done a very good job at making it a taboo subject, they have PR trolls that call everyone a racist. Just because they want a fair market.
    It’s not a right or left thing either, both sides have been chipping away at American workers since the Clinton years. The biggest reason these companies want H1B/OPT workers is they are a temporary workforce.

    All we can hope for is the silent voter to get rid of the legislators that have turned this country into a service-economy.

  7. Trumps works hard and needs sometime to fix the whole issue as it will take time from political stand point. Like the hype created that US is short of skilled IT workers to get H/L visas, the shift now moved to health industry saying US has shortage of Doctors and Nurses. So the businesses and immigration practice people don’t lose their businesses.
    But US seems no shortage of any kind of workers.

    • US does not need any worker from other countries specially from India. There are smart people in US too. When these tech companies bring people from India, only one senior is knowledgeable about the job and the rest are just trainee on the jobs in the team. They train on the job and later they get jobs in other companies on higher salary.
      Why can’t US tech companies train graduates from local universities and colleges and those who are US citizens? These tech companies should spend money on training instead of paying the H1 B visa fee. Even if it’s temporary, they end up staying here permanently.
      In addition, they should not give work permit to spouses of the H1 B visa workers. They should be gone back after initial temporary visa.

  8. Eleanor McArthur

    I found some lobbyist groups in support of stricter data security and joined some small businesses lobbyist organizations as a member. I want to let representatives know that we should be focusing on programs to hire from Dept of Labor offices, community colleges, bootcamps, etc. in order to also protect our data and keep it within jurisdiction. It also prevents other businesses from additional data leaks. If you can’t beat the lobbyist groups, join them..

  9. This is a good start. Thank you Mr President for finally taking notice.

    Companies now have 6 months to go without any NEW h1b’s. It will be good to see if Apple, Facebook, google, et. al. will suffer as badly as they have been saying they will without the program. If they still thrive-why do we need the program at all?

    • Vivek Venkat

      Hoping that the jobs do not get exported – Off-shoring..
      All these companies have large off-shore facilities and all their work can be done remotely. How can these large multi-national companies be stopped from exporting the jobs…

    • Mr. President needs to stop offshoring as well or at the very least put a cap like no corporate can offshore more than 50% of their workforce. Offshoring hurts more because money is going outside and only filling corporate pockets. First it was help desk jobs that was being offshored but unfortunately, now all level of jobs is offshored and being offshored — even managerial and VP level jobs. Please look at both issues: H1 and offshoring. Both have to be stopped.

  10. Charles

    Happy to see the H1B program halted. Time and time again have I heard my friends getting displaced or having a hard time searching for a job because of this program. If tech wants a better pool of applicants they should be investing in the United States education system and encouraging togetherness instead of trying to divide everyone.

  11. Karl Nemo

    Given the current unstable political and social situation in the US, the last thing needed are more foreigners who represent a lot of why so many Americans are angry, especially in light of the current depression and unemployment.

  12. Remember, it’s only for SIX months, after that, Trump leaves and everything is back to normal. Trump doesn’t have the support to make permanent changes to anything, so keep dreaming.

  13. Lt. Dan

    Finally, something! The Administration has been threatening to tighten up this gamed H-1B visa program for years so I’m delighted they’ve moved from talk to actual action. Mind you, I’m no fan of the Trump Admin’s other shortcomings and failings, but this is one rare example of “Good Trump” and I’m willing to give credit when credit’s due.

    Now we’ll see if the Departments of Labor and Immigration can “hold the line” and not ease off again, making this all toothless in the end. Having been on both the receiving end as well as being ordered to hire H1-B’s over qualified American citizens this crackdown can’t come soon enough. Now let’s keep it, and be just as selective on work visas as Canada, the UK and the EU are.

    I come from a blue state with both Senators and my U.S. Rep all Democratic. Even as a center-right independent (former republican) I’m writing all three to urge them to support the President on this policy shift. I will let them know in detail how this H-1B program went from bringing in PhD.’s and other experts to flooding our STEM fields – especially IT – with cheap, imported labor marked-down to grab market share, all at the expense of college-educated U.S. citizen professionals.

    Real people with real stories, voters that have been negatively impacted tend to gain ears. I urge everyone on here to do the same. Keep it respectful and professional, and together we can kill this abuse for good – and bring back IT as a viable career track for us, our kids and grandkids. The market will adjust to the scarcity of available citizen talent, and more folks will train for these fields as a result. A win-win for all.

  14. So, there’s been a halt on H1B for the last two months…how is the IT unemployment going on?? what happened to all the h1b whiners? did you all get a job now?

  15. This issue is two-folds. Everyone is looking at one issue and totally ignoring the other. While I agree that the H1 Visa should be stopped and US Citizens should be given preference; but what about the millions of jobs being off-shored to India? Why the US Government or anyone do not talk about it? Right now the bigger issue is off-shoring (moving jobs to India).

    • Vivek Venkat

      I replied to another thread with same response. Off shoring is difficult to stop. All these are multinational companies, deriving part of their revenue from markets outside of US. They will find talent where it is available (or cheap). How can you stop that and still call ourselves Capitalist country

  16. Make it permanent! President Trump.
    For Year Software Engineers have suffered with low salaries because of the flood of so call “Software Developers” from these countries. Cheap labor was the policy by the Obama administration just look at the numbers they let in to flooded the software market for years.

  17. Stop_H1B

    H1B has been a huge problem insofar as it has destroyed ALL the entry level IT jobs where American citizens were once groomed for higher level IT. As a result, all innovation has ceased. This is a National Defense Issue. We should not be sourcing aliens to manage our most precious systems and resources. As soon a the H1B started, the crooks moved in. It started with some shifty Americans and then the Indians did a full court press and brought in their own contacts in the United States who created a game. The game is to entice a person in India to pursue a degree from a diploma mill, claim he is highly skilled. They all call themselves “engineers”. It sounds smart, right? The recruiter charges the candidate thousands to get here. A resume is “generated” citing certification in every possible software you can imagine. A 25 year old looks like he has the experience of someone who has been in the industry 40 or more years. Of course, the certs are faked because most who hire these folks do not check. If they check references, the phone numbers go directly back to the recruiter. Stellar reference. If there are phone interviews, the candidate does not take it, they interview is taken by a much more seasoned Indian who has his lines down. Very professional. Hired. First day on the job, the young guy shows up. When the hiring manager is American her or she is perplexed because the candidate appears to be 18 years old. They escort him to a workspace, issue the PC and assign a project. Immediately the cellphone comes out. Phone a friend. The new hire has no clue what to do. All day on the phone, Teamviewer is handed over to the person on the distant end, passwords shared and he is off to the races. Of course, if the hiring manager is Indian, there are no surprises. The manager makes sure his new hire has an office, not a cubicle and he just walks away. He has just hired a friend or, at least, another one of his or her countrymen. Most of the Indians managers are men, due to their paternalistic culture. If they have to lay off any indians, they will be the women.

    At the end of the day, all of the U.S. technology invented here is ending up in India who claims to be an ally of the United States while eating our lunch. They are not different from the Chinese who steal our technology At least the Chinese do not purport to be friends. I also find it much easier to work with the American Chinese than the indians who believe they are culturally superior. I wonder why people always say they want to be equal when all they want is superiority by killing off the other person — symbolically or otherwise.

    I have a lot more experiences, having spent half a lifetime traveling to India so i could save my IT job. Many of us have done it.

    POTUS, please ban the h1b in its entirety. No grandfather provisions, no nothing. Train American people who complain about no opportunities in STEM and IT fields to take these jobs. There are a lot of us who can fill those ranks but still cannot afford college. HELP.

    • Great comment! But what about the millions of jobs (even high level jobs) are being exported/offshored to India. What can Mr. President do about it. Money is going out and only filling corporate pockets. Offshoring is hurting more. We can have a winning dance by just halting H1 Visas. Offshoring has to be stopped and all jobs brought back to USA. Then there will be extreme demand for IT, even new graduates. Think outside the box and not just focus on H1, please.

    • Charles

      That explains the 18 out of 20 recruiters calling me in the last 30 days with Indian names. No joke. And its been the same since I lost my job late last year. You can’t blame foreign workers for taking advantage of a system (if done legitimately) put in place by our own government many years ago. This is just the tip of the iceberg of how many in the government has been destroying our country from within.

  18. Clay Montgomery

    Of course the snakes complain when the swamp is being drained. And it’s not temporary, it’s just the beginning. The US workforce participation rate is only 60%! Everyone must get out and vote this November for the first President in decades that is fighting for America and YOU, Donald J. Trump.

  19. nc1996

    Nick Kolakowski and Dice have been using these H1B articles as a dog-whistle for racists and religious bigots to come out and describe Indians in dehumanizing terms.

    If the goal is to inform the public, who do they allow comments?

    This dumb reporter is even mixed up about the current year: “rest of 2021”.

    Trump will stop 500,000 legal visas and award 1 million green cards to DACA-illegals.

    The “educated” people in the comments section don’t are about illegal immigration, because it affects only low-income whites and blacks. They don’t have the backbone to stand up to the Democratic (aka white Catholic/Hispanic controlled) party which aids and abets illegal immigration. Listed below are the data about Catholic-only illegal immigration policies:

    1) There are 30 million or more illegals in this country.
    2) Amnesty was provided to 4 million illegals in 1996 and 1 million DACA illegals in 2012.
    3) 400,000 anchor babies are borne every year to illegals who become automatic citizens.
    4) These anchor-babies are eligible for affirmative action over white children who have lived in this country for 100’s of years because they are an “underrepresented” minority. Hispanics will soon become “underrepresented” majority.
    5) 1000’s of US Citizens like Kate Steinle are killed by illegals, protected by sanctuary cities and states.

    The “educated” people in the comments section should also be focusing on fixing the above issues.

  20. Average Joe

    H1B is not what we need to worry about. Why bother getting worker bees when you can offshore mid-level management and worker bees. Over the past ten years companies have learnt to offshore entire departments. My company’s entire HR and Accounting department was offshored to Accenture Philippines. Apple operates design centers in India. How long before our jobs are transplanted to a low-price country? If anything COVID-19 has exacerbated this push.

    • @Joe. Rightly said, I have been saying the same thing that offshoring is more a problem now. In some companies almost 90% of IT jobs (of all sorts) have been offshored to India. In the last few years, not a single US associate has been hired — US citizen or H1 or whatever. Every single job opening is in India. I don’t know why the news and media is harping on the H1 issue alone and totally ignoring the bigger evil — offshoring. Even on forums (like Dice) people are more angry on H1 and not mentioning offshoring at all. If we want to see IT jobs back in USA, we have to stop both (offshoring and H1).

  21. Wow. I’m appalled by the hatred and insensitivity towards fellow human beings we are showing. This behavior DOES NOT represent what America stands for! We became the greatest nation in the world not just by pure american talent, but also with the help of those millions other foreign workers who came here and contributed. It is very immature to go on believing that we will continue to be the greatest once that factor is gone from here. If we completely stop giving them a reason to even come here, they would find greener pastures. While it might be pleasing for some of you who take pride in your white supremacy, I will not stand with you. Because it goes against my moral ethics. Everyone out here calling names to dehumanize people based on their nationality, you should be ashamed of yourselves. I agree that some programs like the H1B need to be revised and revisited. But if we are so worried about some foreigners “stealing” our jobs, it’s time to reassess where our skill stands next to these people. The problem is, we want everything to be served to us on a silver platter and we’re not ready to work towards improving ourselves because we feel entitled. You could argue and debate, but you cannot deny that we also immigrated to these lands once. So let’s stop belittling others and work towards improving ourselves. If nothing else, let’s work towards trying to be a little more “human”.

    • Nuance

      Blah, blah, blah no one wishes to insult foreigners. Eveyone knows what really going on and people like you really crystalize the issue when you try to pull the race card. i wonder if you work for a cheap labor PR firm.

        • @Marc
          That would be Mr. Boomer to you.
          If your parents didn’t teach you to respect your elders, they should have at least taught you to respect those that are smarter and better than you.
          Stop embarrassing yourself.

    • Marc – stop with oversimplifying and calling names. Your stilted phrasing shows you are not a native english speaker so don’t pretend you are an American and don’t scold.
      When the entire IT department is replaced with H1b visa holders you know perfectly well that individual skill sets were not considered as a factor – it was simply the costs. Saying go look at your skills is absurd in this situation – because they were not a part of the decision.

      • Yep, can’t agree more. It truly makes me bristle when they immediately use the Race Card.
        I couldn’t care less about anyone’s color. What I do care about is being able to work and see that the government ensures that our rates/salaries go up each time the cost of living, cost of housing, cost of education, and our cost of healthcare go up. This our government can do just by making sure that these VISA programs aren’t being used merely to bring in cheap labor and bypass local workers who are available and competent to do the work.

  22. For my fellow H1B aspirants, don’t lose heart. You could still stay in your home country and work for an American company from there. You won’t need a US visa if you go about it that way and your still be an employee at the company working as an “individual contractor”. ^_~

    Just talk to your HR if you have an offer and work towards getting this done. You’d have so much peace of mind living and working in your own country and paying your taxes there, but earning in US currency. Of course, this is just a high level picture and there’s a lot of underlying documentation and paperwork, but it can be done. Let’s make our countries great now!

  23. King Trump

    Your guys are getting upset other nothing! Trump & Moscow Mitch will be back in business after the November elections. The executive order will be rescinded. H1b’s will flood the market.

    If he really wanted to make dent. How come he didn’t suspend active/ in-process H4 visas??

    Remember, it was Teddy Cruz making amendments to increase the H1b years ago.
    They are all scum and will never support the average citizen.

  24. nc1996

    @King Trump, You posted a link to a video. That amendment never became law. To the contrary, Ted Cruz advocated for h1b freeze last month. Please see this link in Dice.
    Ted Cruz is my hero and the hero for many who believe in the rule of law and the separation of the Church and State. Ted Cruz, despite his Hispanic heritage, believes illegal immigration should be stopped; most Catholic/Hispanic lawmakers encourage and reward illegal immigrants with amnesty (aka path to US Citizenship).

  25. Frederick Nordhorn

    poor POOR poor Disney World is going to have to hire back all theUS IT workers they replaced with H1B people a few years ago because they were cheaper. The one they told to train their replacements and if they did not they not get there severance pay. Good LUCK trying to find them.

  26. Reluctantly Posting

    Pew Research found 25% of all H1-B visas in 2011 were used for jobs requiring only an associate degree. If that stat holds true for the years this program has been active, then the US has let hundreds of thousands of foreign workers fill low-level positions a high school graduate could have been trained to fill. If you’ve looked at the course list for an associate degree in computer science, it isn’t IT intensive because of the other general course requirements.

    Yes, outsourcing is going to continue to be a huge resource. I’m a big fan of limiting workforce numbers to countries based on geographically derived revenue. For Google, 46% of the revenue is derived in the US, 20+% in Europe, less than 7% is in countries that include India so they shouldn’t be able to export more than 7% of their workforce to India. When I say “workforce,” I would include contractors and and service delivery providers in that number as well.

  27. Offshore management? Been saying for years managers can answer emails from a yurt. But can you imagine living where you can’t get Depends? Definitely ‘work from home’.