President Donald Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House after returning on Marine One, early Wednesday, June 24, 2020, in Washington. Trump returned from Arizona. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Thousands of Canadians could be affected by Trump’s decision to extend visa ban

In 2019, more than 4,600 people born in Canada were approved as beneficiaries under the H-1B

Thousands of Canadians working for technology companies or multinational corporations in the United States could be affected by a new ban that freezes the issuance of temporary work visas until the end of the year.

The Trump administration on Monday extended a ban on green cards issued outside the U.S. and added many temporary work visas to the freeze.

The ban on new visas, which takes effect Wednesday, applies to four categories including H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1.

In 2019, more than 4,600 people born in Canada were approved as beneficiaries under the H-1B alone, which is widely used by American and Indian technology companies, according to a report compiled by the citizenship and immigration division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Documents provided by the U.S. State Department also showed more than 400 Canadians with impacted visas last year, including 101 for the H-1B and 156 for the J-1. The State numbers also show 161 Canadians with L-1 visas, issued to managers and other multinational employees, and five H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers.

The Trump administration cast the effort as a way to free up jobs in an American economy reeling from the coronavirus. A senior official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity predicted it will open up to 525,000 jobs for Americans, a claim that was immediately challenged by critics.

The ban, while temporary, represents a cut to legal immigration on a scale that had eluded the administration before the pandemic. Long-term changes that would prevent many asylum seekers from getting work permits and would allocate high-tech worker visas differently are also being sought.

Business groups pressed hard to limit the changes, but got little of what they wanted, marking a victory for immigration hardliners as Trump seeks to further solidify their support ahead of the November election.

There will be exemptions for food processing workers, which make up about 15% of H-2B visas, the official said. Health care workers assisting with the coronavirus fight will continue to be spared from the green-card freeze, though their exemption will be narrower.

“In the administration of our Nation’s immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labour market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour,” Trump wrote in his presidential proclamation.

Trump imposed a 60-day ban on green cards issued abroad in April, which was set to expire Monday. That announcement, which largely targeted family members, drew a surprisingly chilly reception from immigration hardliners, who said the president didn’t go far enough.

The new steps to include non-immigrant visas went a long toward appeasing hardliners.

“This is a bold move by the Trump administration to protect American jobs,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restrictions. “Not all the items on our checklist of needed actions are included in today’s announcement, but the corporate lobbyists who were desperately fighting for exceptions to protect their clients’ access to cheap foreign labour have largely been rebuffed.”

READ MORE: Did TikTok teens, K-Pop fans punk Trump’s comeback rally?

Thomas J. Donohue, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive officer, said the measures will harm, not help, the American economy.

“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” he said. “Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”

BSA, a group that represents major software companies, urged the administration to reconsider, particularly changes to the H-1B program, saying they will hinder economic recovery by making it harder to fill critical positions.

“Filling these roles that are more abundant than the number of U.S. employees qualified to fill them means these jobs can be kept in the U.S.,” the group said. “This allows companies based in the U.S. to remain globally competitive, which in turn boosts the U.S. economy, creating jobs for millions of Americans.”

The freezes on visas issued abroad are designed to take effect immediately. Other changes, including restrictions on work permits for asylum seekers, will go through a formal rule-making process that takes months.

The administration is proposing a new way of awarding H-1B visas, the official said, awarding them by highest salary instead of by lottery.

H-1B visas are capped at 85,000 a year for people with “highly specialized knowledge” and minimum of a bachelor’s degree, often in science, technology, engineering, teaching and accounting. Critics say high-tech companies have used the visas as a tool to outsource jobs to foreigners, replacing Americans.

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. was the largest H-1B employer in the 2018 fiscal year, followed by Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Ltd., Deloitte Consulting LLP and Microsoft Corp. Other major employers include Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Google and Facebook Inc.

The rule against asylum seekers, scheduled to take effect Aug. 25, would make it much more difficult for them to get work permits by, among other things, lengthening the waiting time to apply from 150 days to a year and barring applicants who cross the border illegally.

READ MORE: Trump suggests U.S. slow virus testing to avoid bad statistics

The 328-page regulation — signed by Chad Mizelle, the Homeland Security Department’s acting general counsel, who is considered an ally of White House adviser Stephen Miller — says limiting work permits will remove a major incentive for people to come to the United States for asylum.

It is the latest in a long string of measures that make asylum more difficult to get — almost unattainable, according to some immigrant advocacy groups.

“The rule will prevent many refugees from feeding, supporting, and housing themselves and their families,” said Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First’s senior director for refugee protection. “Asylum seekers and their families already struggle to survive under existing work authorization wait times. But this rule will make survival impossible for many.”

Perhaps the only major consolation for business and academic institutions is the preservation — at least for now — of the Optional Practical Training program that allows college graduates to stay in the United States up to three years after completing study.

___

Spagat reported from San Diego.

Deb Riechmann and Elliot Spagat, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusDonald TrumpUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

While Revelstoke has one of the oldest bear awareness societies in the province, the city has yet to implement a community wide bear-proof garbage system. (Submitted)
Saving bears: Revelstoke’s garbage dilemma

More than 400 bears have been killed in the city since 1986

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal). The polls are closed and ballots being counted. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Clovechok preliminary winner with 52 per cent of the vote

35 of 77 polls have reported and The Canadian Press is calling Clovechok winner

Firefighters and RCMP are on scene at a fire on Douglas Street. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
PHOTOS: Firefighters battling blaze on Douglas Street

RCMP are also on scene and blocking off access to the street

The Columbia River Revelstoke riding saw three candidates, Nicole Cherlet for the NDP, Samson Boyer for the Green Party and Doug Clovechok, incumbent, for the BC Liberals. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
UPDATE: Polls now closed in 2020 provincial election

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Multiple motor vehicle incidents stalled traffic between Kelowna and Vernon on Highway 97 after a morning snowfall Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Pam Wiebe Brunsdon - Facebook)
Slick roads on Monday commute around Vernon

Several accidents have been reported stalling highway traffic

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
One case of COVID-19 identified at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health will follow up directly with those who may have been exposed to the virus

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu offered praise to her team of volunteers (pictured Oct. 21), following a too-close race with BC Liberal and incumbent Eric Foster in the 2020 provincial election Oct. 24. The outcome will be dependent on the final count from mail-in ballots expected in three weeks. (Facebook)
‘Every vote counts’ in tight Vernon-Monashee race: NDP Harwinder Sandhu

Incumbent BC Liberal Eric Foster finishes election night with slim lead

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)
UPDATE: One dead after Highway 97A crash near Armstrong, police watchdog investigating

The crash happened as RCMP attempted to stop an alleged stolen vehicle

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Most Read