In Brief

Thousands of Brits hit by Donald Trump’s skilled immigrant visa ban

US president has suspended entry to skilled workers including bankers, IT experts and doctors

Around 30,000 skilled British workers will be prevented from taking jobs in the US this year as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to extend an employment-based visa ban, government figures suggest.

The US president signed an executive order on Monday prohibiting the issuance of skilled worker visas in fields including banking and technology until at least the end of the year. Visas already issued are not affected.

According to a a review of US State Department statistics by The Times, a total of 30,507 visas were issued in the UK last year for the classes covered by the ban - equivalent to a third of all non-immigrant US visas handed to Britons.

 The Trump administration is presenting the extension of the ban, first implemented in April, as a way to preserve US jobs “while the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic”, says The Guardian. Visas already issued are not affected, however.

A senior official “who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity” estimated the restrictions would free up to 525,000 jobs for Americans, the newspaper reports.

The ban covers H-1B, L-1 and J-1 visas, as well as visas issued to the spouses of these visa-holders: H-2B, L-2 and J-2. The Times notes that H-1B visas are commonly used by Silicon Valley technology companies to hire skilled software developers. 

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TechCrunch says that the visa suspensions will “hit Silicon Valley hard”, not least “very early-stage tech companies trying to get off the ground”.

Meanwhile, Thomas Donohue, chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, said the ban was akin to “putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers”. 

Todd Schulte, president of pro-immigration business group Fwd.us, called the restrictions a “full-frontal attack on American innovation”.

Tech giants including Amazon and Twitter have also criticised the decision.

Amazon has issued a statement that describes the ban extension as “short-sighted”, whileTwitter’s vice-president for public policy and philanthropy, Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, said: “This proclamation undermines America’s greatest economic asset: its diversity.”

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