NAICU Washington Update

Executive Order Suspends Certain Work-Related Visas

June 25, 2020

President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that will suspend the issuance of certain employment-based non-immigrant visas through the end of 2020.  The EO expands visa limitations put in place at the beginning of the pandemic and could be extended beyond the end of the year.
The order affects the issuance of new visas to individuals intending to enter the U.S. and those seeking renewal who may have left for the summer and will now be unable to return.  The EO does not impact current visa holders already in the country. 
Specifically, the EO affects H1-B and H-4 visas which are for skilled workers and their spouses respectively.  The H1-B visas affect the largest population of visa holders and includes fields such as IT, finance, engineering, and research, and will affect international educators in faculty positions on many college campuses.  The EO also affects H2-B visa holders which include seasonal workers, but exempts those deemed necessary to the food supply, like agricultural workers. The EO also affects roughly 300,000 J-1 visa holders, which include students who study via a U.S. Department of State program to acquire skills to take back to their home country, and many au pairs. 
Those holding F-1 and M-1 visas, which are the other two types of international student visas, are not included in the EO. F-1 visas allows students to study in the U.S. for multiple years, and be employed on campus during their course study, while M-1 visas are for vocational education and do not include employment opportunities.
Lastly, the EO will impact L-1 visa holders, which are typically executives transferring from a company abroad to that same company located in the U.S.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows international students to stay in the U.S. and work as part of their course of study was not addressed in the EO.  There was concern that the OPT program might be suspended or ended as part of this Order.