US President Donald Trump said in a tweet he would sign an executive order prohibiting immigration into the country later on Wednesday, in the wake of protecting US workers amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
In his address to the media a day earlier, Trump had stated that the 60-day ban would apply to those seeking permanent residency or Green Card holders and not coming into the US as temporary workers.
“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid-off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labour flown in from abroad. This pause will be in effect for 60 days, after which the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated based on economic conditions at the time," he added.
The move is unlikely to impact H1B and other US Visa holders.
Indian IT companies widely use H-1B and L1 visas to transfer highly-skilled workers to the US. In the past, the Trump government has been accused by the IT industry in India of discriminating against Indian workers seeking H-1B visas.
“I don’t think this will have any significant impact on Indian IT services, because no one is anyway travelling to the US right now. Also it is a temporary ban. It may impact some contract finalisations for which face to face meetings were required. Market is driven by sentiments and this may impact some sentiments, but I think larger sense will prevail that at this point nothing is really moving," said DD Mishra, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner.
However, the Trump government will evaluate if any additional immigration-related measures should be put in place to protect US workers.
Critics feel that halting immigration temporarily isn't a covid-19 measure as Trump maintains, but a job-loss measure— suspension of green cards and permanent immigration processes.
"Trump’s being unusually reasonable about this, not announcing any ban on holders of existing visas including H1Bs—recognising that those jobs are unlikely to get filled by US citizens in a short time, and any disruptions there could affect banking, travel or other services. In fact the US govt has even H-1B visa holders to stay on in the US and apply for an extension if their visas are expiring, given the covid-19 situation affecting travel back," says Prasanto K Roy, tech writer and policy analyst.
According to market reports, India has been the only country that takes 70% of the 85,000 H-1B visas applied annually. US visa rejection rates for Indian IT companies rose to 24% in 2019, up from just 6% in 2015.
Industry body Nasscom is yet to respond as they are seeking details on the Executive Order of the President suspending immigration temporarily.