On June 22nd, 2020, POTUS signed an Executive Order: Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak.
This order suspends and limits the entry of aliens in the US under the H1B, H2B, L and J visas. This will be in effect till December 31st, 2020.
Complete transcript of the order:
Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak | The White House
We have tried to answer a few questions which the students might have. These are my interpretations and when there is more clarity I will update this document.
Whom does it impact?
This impacts people who are planning to come to USA on the H1-B, H2-B, L visas. It impacts these visa holders who are not currently present in the USA (considering their stamping is still pending). It impacts personnel currently doing their jobs in USA or planning to go on site in the USA. It will impact those employees who would be sent by their company on site. It will impact those companies who very highly rely on sending employees to their clients site in the US. It may impact IT companies in India who regularly send Indian employees to the US.
Whom it does not impact?
It doesn't impact the H1B holders who are already in the US. The ones whose visa is valid and they are already in the US, it doesn't impact them.
It also does not impact international students studying in USA under the F1 visa. Furthermore, OPT for international students stands unaffected. No mention of F1 visa or OPT in this EO.
Students wishing to study in US are also not affected. Students enrolled in their masters in US or any other courses will also not be barred entry to travel to US for their next semester.
What does this mean for students?
The EO doesn't mention anything about the students. Students are not affected by this at all. For the incoming batch or Fall 2020 admission, Spring 2021 admission, Fall 2021 admission or later, this should not be a problem. You would be graduating only 2 years later and that is when you would be on OPT and post that on H1B. This is just a temporary order and not something permanent. There are very high chances that this EO will be changed or ended even before December.
Another positive aspect of this executive order is that when the consulates open up, they will be under less pressure and be able to cater to students applying for F1 visa to study in the US.
What does this mean for students looking for job post education?
This might bring in some positive news for students looking for job post their education. They would be changing their status from F to OPT to H1 (upon selection in lottery). This suspension might not affect them. On the contrary students on OPT might become more in demand. If no new H1B candidates can come from outside, this opens up greater opportunity for students who will be changing their status to OPT. Tech jobs in US are ample and with a limited pool of talent supply, jobs for international students in USA will see a new high.
Does this mean OPT will also be cancelled?
Executive Order is something temporary and the President can sign it. Any changes in immigration laws requires it to go through the legislative process. If you notice this EO is aimed at not allowing new H1B of employees coming from other countries. It doesn't impact the students who would graduate and go for employment.
There are speculations that when the H1B opens up again after a few months it would be on basis of merit. This is something which Trump has said many times. This will make it easier for the international students currently pursuing their masters in US who later would apply for H1.