May 08, 2020
Four Republican Senators sent President Trump a letter urging him to suspend “all nonimmigrant guest worker visas for the next sixty days” and new H-1B, H-2B, and Optional Practical Training program visas for one year “or until employment has returned to normal levels.”
The backstory: The letter from Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) comes on the heels of an executive order from April 22nd of this year banning the issuance of most green cards for 60 days at minimum. The EO does not “apply to those entering on a temporary basis,” the President clarified.
The Senators are proposing to extend the EO to temporary work visas, which, “at a minimum,” would include “H-2B visas (nonagricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers), and the Optional Practical Training program,” an extension of student visas for new graduates to receive job experience.
“It defies common sense to admit additional foreign guest workers to compete for… limited employment,” the letter states.
Exceptions to the proposed suspension “should be rare, limited to time-sensitive industries such as agriculture, and issued only on a case-by-case basis when the employer can demonstrate that they have been unable to find Americans to take the jobs.” The letter goes on to say, “appropriate exceptions could also be crafted to the H-1B program suspension to allow for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who wish to come to the United States to assist in combating the coronavirus pandemic.”