NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that temporarily suspends the issue of new green cards for 60 days, a move he said would protect American jobs during the ongoing covid-19 crisis.
The order applies to those seeking permanent residence in the US or foreign nationals seeking a green card from outside the US. Those who are in the country seeking to change their immigration status will not be affected by the order.
The order provides exemptions to certain categories, including healthcare workers who are essential and critical to helping both the American people and the US economy recover amid the pandemic.
“We support these objectives and believe that it is important that the US continues to access talent critical to the recovery phase,” said Shivendra Singh, vice-president and head, global trade development, at Nasscom.
IT industry body Nasscom believes that the US needs access to health care workers as well as those essential technology workers who are keeping critical infrastructure operating in the US, ensuring that US hospitals and first responders have the IT systems they need, building and maintaining the systems to help children learn remotely, helping US industries to remain open and operating, and playing key roles in efforts to develop treatments and a cure for this disease.
The current order does not impact Indian IT companies that use H-1B and L1 visas to transfer highly skilled workers to the US. In the past, the Trump administration 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 travelling to the US right now. Also it is a temporary ban. It may impact some contract finalisations for which meetings were required. I think the larger sense will prevail that at this point nothing is really moving,” said DD Mishra, Senior Director Analyst, at Gartner.
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 the permanent immigration processes. Indians in line for an employer-sponsored green card will have to wait longer, especially if the order is extended beyond 60 days, which Trump has alluded to.
“Trump is 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,” saif Prasanto K Roy, tech writer and policy analyst.
The order includes a provision to review non-immigrant visa programmes in the future. Nasscom hopes that Trump will take recommendations from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security that have given detailed examples of jobs and employees that are essential and carve out an exception for technology workers on H1-B visas.