The White House does not plan to renew a Trump-era order that halted many work-based visa programs in the name of the coronavirus, sources told The Hill.
The order, signed by former President Trump last April, is set to expire on Wednesday.
The policy barred those seeking to come to the U.S. under a number of visa categories from entering the country, arguing that the impact of COVID-19 on the economy required limiting foreign workers.
“Without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand,” Trump wrote at the time, adding that “American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy.”
The proclamation froze the application process for work and student visas and was renewed by the Trump administration numerous times. It specifically targeted H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas.
H-1Bs, the largest visa program, are used for skilled workers and are common in the tech industry, while H-2B visas are used by seasonal workers. H-4 visas are given to spouses of H-1B visa holders.
J-1 visas are given to researchers, scholars and other specialized categories such as au pairs. L-1 visas are used for executives transferring to the United States from positions abroad with the same employer.
Trump extended the visa order at the end of last year through March 2021, placing the onus on President Biden to revoke the measure and face potential criticism for welcoming more foreign workers at a time when the U.S. economy was still recovering from the coronavirus recession.
Business groups and immigration advocates had urged Biden to rescind the Trump order after taking office. Instead, Biden took no action and is now allowing the visa restrictions to expire.
The expiration follows the signing of an executive order last month in which Biden rescinded a Trump order from 2020 that blocked many green card applicants from entering the United States. Trump cited similar economic concerns amid the pandemic in imposing those restrictions last year.