In recent weeks, stories have circled around the White House, Washington DC and immigration groups that the Trump Administration is considering further restrictions and possible suspension of adjudication on the following categories:

  1. H-1B Program (specialty occupation workers)
  2. H-2B Program (non-agricultural workers only)
  3. L-1 (intracompany manager/specialized knowledge workers for multi-national companies)
  4. J-1 Exchange Visitor Program affecting “summer work travel” programs
  5. Optional Practical Training (used by foreign students who graduate from U.S. institutions)

The reason? Throughout the Trump presidency, he and his advisers have argued that these categories and benefits restrict jobs for American workers. This is despite data demonstrating that unemployment rates have remained low in industries that employ temporary non-immigrant visa holders, with industry leaders and advocacy groups arguing that any restrictions on these categories will only lengthen the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The potential restrictions are part of a much wider campaign to restrict non-immigrant workers which have included measures including:

  1. Buy American Hire American (BAHA).
  2. The removal of time-based targets for non-immigrant visa applicant interviews at consular offices.
  3. Review of all reciprocity schedules, thereby increasing MRV fees and reducing the duration of certain visas, for certain nationals.
  4. New guidelines issued by the Department of State include a new, heightened adjudication standard for blanket L-1 applications.

The situation is rapidly evolving and although it is expected that an announcement is imminent, we have seen in the past that the Administration has often made policy changes counter to those previously expected.

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