WASHINGTON: The United States has extended a ban on its employment permits until the end of the year.
A senior White House administration official in a conference said that the move would affect 525,000 jobs in the US, which is currently rolling from a high unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
US President Donald Trump had repeatedly praised a strong economy, however, the executive order, signed by the president, will extend and widen the 60-day freeze placed on new work permits for non-US citizens two months ago.
The administration official said the new order would extend to the end of 2020 and include H-1B visas provided to 85,000 workers each year with special skills, many of them joining the US technology industry.
The ban, while temporary, represents a cut to legal immigration on a scale that had eluded the administration before the pandemic. Long-term changes that would prevent many asylum seekers from getting work permits and would allocate high-tech worker visas differently are also being sought.
It will also cover most J visas, common for academics and researchers, and L visas used by companies to shift workers based overseas to their US offices.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai whose company has been a leading beneficiary of the H1-B visa system said he was “disappointed” by the announcement.
“Immigration has contributed immensely to America´s economic success, making it a global leader in tech,” he said. The move comes as Trump feuds with Silicon Valley after Twitter and Snapchat censored posts by the president they claimed incited violence.