Last week, President Trump announced that he will suspend all new work visas through the end of the year in order to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For some, this will mean disappointment as their expected visas fall through. For others, there will be little noticeable impact, as American consulates have already been closed due to the coronavirus and the issuance of visas has already been limited.
Which visas are affected?
H-1B visas for highly skilled workers. Last fiscal year, the State Department issued 188,123 H-1B visas, which included new applications and renewals. Unfortunately, the numbers are way down this year. In May, only 143 H-1B visas were issued, according to Reuters, compared with 13,678 last May.
H-2B visas for seasonal, non-agricultural labor. These visas are popular in industries such as hospitality and landscaping. Last year, the State Department issued 97,623 of these visas, including both new applications and renewals.
H-4 visas for dependents of H visa holders. The presidential proclamation restricts entry for “any alien accompanying or following to join” a holder of a visa that has been suspended.
L-1 visas for intracompany transferees. This includes L-1A visas for executives and managers and L-1B visas for workers who have specialized knowledge. Last fiscal year, the State Department issued 76,988 of these visas. There is no annual cap on L-1 visas.
L-2 visas for dependents of L-1 visa holders. Again, the proclamation suspends dependent visas for those visas that are being suspended.
J-1 visas for cultural or educational exchange. These are visas for people who are “participating as an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair or summer work travel program.” Last year, the State Department issued 353,279 J-1 visas.
J-2 visas for dependents of J-1 visa holders. Visas for spouses and dependents of J-1 visa holders are also being suspended.
The presidential proclamation was issued against the advice of business groups, who insist that these visas are needed to fill jobs for which there aren’t enough American workers.
If you have been affected by the suspension of these visas, there may not be much you can do. However, it may be possible to qualify for a type of visa that has not been suspended. Call Yew Immigration Law Group for assistance. Allison Yew is a certified specialist in immigration law, and we have years of experience helping people live and work in the United States.