New Executive Order Bans Employment Visas for Certain Foreign Workers

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Washington D.C. – The Trump administration on Monday announced an Executive Order suspending many employment-based temporary visas for foreign-born workers, claiming the move protects American workers as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. The order would mostly impact H1-B visas, reserved for high-skilled workers; H2-B visas, for seasonal employees; H-4 visas, for spouses; L-1 visas, for corporate executives; and J-1 visas, for professors and exchange programs through December 31, 2020.

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Ban On Foreign-Born Workers

“This is yet another attempt to reduce immigration – even temporary immigration – under the guise of a public health crisis,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president & CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “This order will shut the door on more than 160,000 foreign-born workers and the families they support,” said Vignarajah, citing estimates from the Migration Policy Institute.

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While the Executive Order does not apply to those already in the U.S. and carves out certain exemptions, its implementation is expected to be prohibitive to family reunification.

“These changes are made in the name of protecting American jobs, but a significant number of these visas are allotted to family members of highly-skilled immigrants,” continued Vignarajah. “Approximately 45,000 wives, husbands, sons, and daughters will be barred from the country – how does excluding immigrant children protect American jobs?”

The Economic Contributions

Immigration advocates have also pointed to the economic contributions of these visa holders, the private sector’s need to recruit top talent, and resistance from senior Republican lawmakers. A group of nine Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn, issued a joint letter in late May, requesting the President to reconsider the then-rumored visa restrictions.

“We are slamming the door on talent, entrepreneurship, and innovation that we literally cannot find anywhere else,” concluded Vignarajah. “This move is bad for business, bad for our recovery, and bad for America’s standing on the worldwide stage. Politics should not trump smart policy – we should be harnessing the ingenuity of these workers to revive an economy in dire straits.”


Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.