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Trump to extend US work visa freeze to year-end

Trump to extend US work visa freeze to year-end

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will prolong a ban on US employment permits to year-end and broaden it to include H-1B visas used widely in the tech industry, the White House said on Monday.

A senior administration official told journalists the move would affect 525,000 jobs in the US, which is currently reeling from a high unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump had repeatedly touted a strong economy, but now finds himself desperate for a political boost ahead of the November election.

The executive order, signed on Monday afternoon, will extend and widen the 60-day freeze Trump 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.

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 wrote on Twitter.

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