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Green Cards and Many Work Visas Frozen Through 2020

President Trump has extended a freeze on green cards for new immigrants and signed an executive order to suspend new H-1B, L-1, J and other temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers, and au pairs through the end of the year. According to a White House official, the goal of the move is to protect 525,000 jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. The order targets H-1B visas, which are designed for certain skilled workers such as those employed in the tech industry, and L-1 visas, which are meant for executives who work for large corporations, but other workers, like foreign au pairs who provide childcare, are also affected. The official said that professors and scholars are not included in the order, which is not expected to affect immigrants and visa holders already in the United States. The order also does not apply to H-2A agriculture workers or health care workers who are considered essential workers during the pandemic.

Anti-immigration groups support the order. Business groups, on the other hand, are expected to oppose it. In May, Trump issued a temporary halt on new green cards but stopped short of suspending guest worker programs amid concerns from the business community. According to Leon Fresco, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration who now represents H-1B workers, "The ban on H-1B visas, which are often used to fill very niche positions that are not easily found in the American workforce, will ultimately prove to be counterproductive and is an example of using a nuclear bomb to address a bar fight."