Will the Ban on Work Visas Cause More Problems for the US?

By Adriaan Brits Thursday, July 30, 2020

With the government already banning international travel to the country, as well as a block on applying for a green card for certain groups, the US economy is struggling. According to statistics, the US had reached a $77 billion dollar trade surplus for international travelers in 2017. The Department of Commerce projects that the US is expected to welcome 95.5 million international visitors annually by 2023.

The US is a global leader for tourism and travel exports and ranks third in the world for total visitation. But will these statistics stay the same with the US government’s new ban on work visas?

What Is Included in the Ban?

For business sectors in tourism, technology, and recreation that rely primarily on immigrant labor, the work visa ban could cause a huge blow. President Trump claimed that his goal is to give US citizens a better chance of getting jobs.

In a statement, the president said, “American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work. Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers.”

In pre-pandemic circumstances, there were temporary worker programs that benefited the US economy. However, due to the sudden changes each country had to make, these once-certain programs now impose a threat to US workers' employment status.

By placing a ban on work visas, some vital programs for companies are automatically suspended. This includes the H-1B visa program for foreign workers, the H-2B visa program for nonagricultural guest workers, the J-1 visa for exchange visitors, and the L-1 visa program used by multinational companies to transfer workers to the US.

Who Is Affected?

Large and small businesses are affected: some will have to shut down for extended periods and consequently lose out on revenue. They also can no longer hire foreigners to fill out important roles for their business, but they do have local US citizens who can fill out the roles for the jobs.

The travel industry is already facing a crisis due to flights being suspended, companies cutting down on jobs, and companies having to refund canceled flights for upset customers. Due to the lack of tourism currently happening in the US, seasonal work for immigrants is no longer allowed with the work visa ban, which means that companies must seek help from local citizens.

On his blog, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Director of Immigration Law and Policy Research Daniel Costas wrote the following: "Nevertheless, temporary work visas are one of the few existing pathways for migrants to contribute to the United States economically, socially, and culturally—which is why every administration should prioritize reforming visa programs in ways that uplift labor standards for all and ensure migrants are paid and treated fairly, and allow them to have a chance to quickly adjust to permanent resident status. But is this proclamation an honest attempt to fix US temporary work visa programs? Undoubtedly, the answer is no.”

What Will Happen Next?

This visa ban will continue until December 31 this year. Therefore, any planned changes will not happen any time soon. The US economy is already fragile due to the pandemic, and the country's businesses are suffering as a whole. Work visa bans are only the latest in the nightmares the US faces together.

However, Donald Trump encourages a positive outlook for the current situation, by wanting to offer more job opportunities to those in need. Due to the unemployment rate that comes with the pandemic globally, Trump wishes to stabilize this by having U.S citizens applying for jobs in all fields. This can grant opportunities for those who have the skills to apply for jobs in the tourism sector or small businesses, but never had the opportunity to do so. The future is uncertain, but the country needs to stay united.

About the Author

Headshot for author Adriaan Brits
As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

Related Articles

Read More