The Trump administration has suspended visas for some foreign workers and extended a pause on some green cards until the end of 2020.
Among those affected by the restriction are high-skilled tech workers, non-agricultural seasonal helpers, au pairs, and top executives, BBC reports.
The move aims at creating jobs for American citizens in the wake of economic turmoil occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the White House.
About 525,000 people including 170,000 blocked by the decision to extend a ban on some new green cards will be affected by the new order.
The new restrictions announced on Monday do not apply to the existing visa holders. The executive order affects H-1B visas, which are mostly granted to Indian tech workers.
The restriction also applies to most H-2B visas for seasonal workers including those in the hospitality industry. Seasonal workers in the agriculture, food processing industry, and healthcare professionals are exempted.
J-1 short-term exchange visas which are mainly granted to university students and foreign au pairs who provide childcare are also restricted under the order. Professors and scholars are not included in the order.
The order has further suspended L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports the reducing legal migration, told AFP that “this is a bold move by the Trump administration to protect American jobs.” But critics accuse the White House of exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic to tighten up immigration laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the move is an “exploitation of a pandemic to reshape immigration law while superseding Congress.”