Trump indefinitely extends pandemic-related halt on international visas

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Dec. 30 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday indefinitely extended a suspension of international visas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump said restrictions on green cards and various types of work visas during the pandemic — originally set to expire Thursday — will remain in place “until terminated by the president.”

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“The secretary of state, the secretary of health and human services and the secretary of homeland security shall, as appropriate and as United States foreign policy interests and continuing public health risks may warrant, submit a joint recommendation for such termination,” Trump said in a memorandum.

Trump initially signed an order placing a hold on the issuance of new green cards in April and then expanded it to include H1-B, H-4, L and most J visas as well as some H2-B visas with an exception for food processing workers in June.

H-1B visas grant temporary work authorizations to people with highly specialized knowledge and are commonly utilized in the tech industry, while H-4 visas are issued to immediate family members of people who hold H-1B visas. Issuances of H-1B visas are currently capped to 85,000 annually.

H-2 visas provide temporary work for agriculture, construction, forestry and other industries; L visas are for temporary intracompany transfers who serve in management positions or have specialized knowledge; and J visas are provided for study-based exchange visitor programs.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump’s immigration policies, including travel bans from majority-Muslim countries and policies separating children from parents at the border. He’s also vowed to reform the visa system and restore refugee admissions to their levels prior to Trump’s presidency.

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