The COVID-19 pandemic has spared no country. Every country in the world is reeling from its impact. The European countries and the United States are the worst hit with a lot of cases and high mortality rates. The United States has the most amount of COVID-19 cases in the entire world. In the wake of all this, the Trump government is proposing a temporary ban on work-based visas. This will help curb immigration into the country. It is mainly being done to open up more jobs for the American people. The rising number of cases has overburdened the system. All International and domestic travel stands suspended.
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Work-based visas and travel ban
President Trump has already signed an executive order banning immigration for 60 days. Even family members of US citizens cannot immigrate during this period. The upcoming changes will be an extension of this. The US is looking to ban H-1B visas which are used by American companies to hire highly skilled people from abroad. American companies use it to hire people with technical expertise. This category of visas is especially popular among Indians and Chinese. Around 500,000 foreign employees in the US currently hold the H-1B visa.
The US is also planning to ban the H-2B visas which are used to bring in seasonal migrant workers. They are also planning to ban student visas and the accompanying work permits.
This ban is not from a point of view of preventing the influx of COVID-19 carriers into the country. The country has taken a severe economic blow and unemployment is at an all-time high. The economy has come to a standstill and the World Bank and WHO have predicted a bleak future. They have projected a negative growth rate for the country. The US economy is predicted to shrink by 15-20% in the second quarter of 2020 as per White House estimates.
Over 33 million Americans have lost their jobs due to the economic blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. For the month of April, the unemployment rate in the United States was 14.7%. This is the highest rate and the highest one month increase since 1948 since data before that is not available.
The borders of the country are temporarily closed and immigration has been curtailed. These new restrictions are aimed at forcing American companies to hire Americans. This is an attempt to save American jobs for the American people. However, this move has been executed under the assumption that the public will accept these restrictions. In light of the current situation, the Trump administration believes that these restrictions are valid.
The entire world is dealing with the impact of COVID-19, but this isn’t a time to fuel protectionist sentiment. The US economy relies on highly skilled labor from abroad in order to fill up the highly skilled jobs. Moreover, a lot of universities in the US have foreign students from around the world. These foreign graduates make up a huge chunk of the university crowd and contribute to the US economy. The public response to these moves remains to be seen.