WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year, moves the administration characterized as necessary to help U.S. workers after steep job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials.
The freeze will apply to work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers and some health-care workers and includes an exemption for the approximately 20,000 child-care providers who come to the United States as au pairs.
Trump officials described the measures in a call with reporters on Monday, but the White House would not allow the officials to be quoted by name. The new restrictions, which Trump is expected to sign Monday afternoon, will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to White House estimates.
Critics of the moves say the president is using the pandemic to carry out the kind of border closures and immigration overhaul he has long extolled, allowing him to tout the measures on the campaign trail.
The freeze will apply to H1-B, H4, and L visas, as well as most J and H2-B visas, the officials said. The administration also said it would issue new regulations denying work authorization to asylum seekers with pending claims for one year, arguing that the humanitarian program is being exploited by economic migrants who file meritless claims.