White House Clarifies Order Suspending Most U.S. Work Visas

  • VOA News

    July 01, 2020 08:38

    The White House has amended a sweeping suspension of U.S. work visas to clarify who is exempt from the order President Donald Trump signed last week.

    The original order said that anyone who had a "non-immigrant visa" as of June 24 was exempt from the ban, which could have included tourist visas and other categories not covered by the order.

    The new version, issued Monday, exempts only those who already had visas in the categories targeted by the proclamation, which include highly skilled workers, trainees, exchange workers and summer laborers as well as those being transferred within a company from a foreign post to a U.S. office.  

    Mexican workers, on the U.S. H2B visa program for seasonal guest workers, process crabs at the A.E. Phillips & Son crab picking house on Hooper's Island in Fishing Creek, Maryland on Aug. 26, 2015. /AP

    Some legal experts said the original order contained a "major draft error." It is not uncommon for executive orders to be clarified after they are issued.

    When asked for comment, a White House spokesperson told VOA on background that the existing language was "fairly standard and is intended to convey that an existing visa holder would not be suspended from traveling on that H-1B [skilled worker visa]."

    The spokesperson added,"But some visa holders who were not suspended, like B visa [business] holders, were wondering whether they could acquire and travel on a brand new visa. That was not within the intent of the exemption, so we thought it best to clarify."

    The order restricts foreign work visas through the end of the year.

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