(CBS NEWS) – The Trump administration on Monday moved to suspend certain visas that allow foreigners to move to the U.S. temporarily to work, saying the restrictions will ease the economic impact of the coronavirus and improve the prospects of Americans looking for employment during the pandemic.
Several guest-worker programs will be restricted under the proclamation that’s expected to be signed by President Trump, who has been vocal in his eagerness to reopen businesses that were forced to close due to the pandemic. Officials said the new restrictions on work visas will last until the end of the year.
The order will suspend H-1B visas for those in specialized fields like the technology sector and most H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers, except those in the food processing industry. Cultural exchange J-1 visas for au pairs and other short-term workers — as well as those for spouses of H-1B holders and for companies to relocate employees to the U.S. — will also be restricted.
The White House expects the proclamation to block the entry of roughly 525,000 people by the end of the year, a senior administration official said during a call with reporters on Monday. Professors and scholars will be excluded from the J-1 visa restrictions, the official added.
Monday’s order is the second set of visa restrictions the administration has implemented in response to the coronavirus. In April, the president signed a proclamation suspending certain visas for foreigners seeking to move to the U.S. permanently through petitions from their family members or prospective employers.
That order, which also paused the diversity visa lottery, will be extended until late December, an administration official said.