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Republican senators urge Trump to suspend H-1B visas for a year

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Republican senators in the US have urged president Donald Trump to suspend all new guest worker visas for 60 days including the H-1B visa for at least the next year. The appeal comes as unemployment figures in the US have reached an all-time high due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter signed by Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley and Josh Hawley said that more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment coverage just since mid-March.

It said one-fifth of the American workforce is currently out of work and called for suspension of all non-immigrant guest worker visas for the next 60 days, followed by a continued suspension of certain categories of new non-immigrant guest worker visas for a year or until the national unemployment figures return to normal levels. The senators said the suspensions should include H-2B visas (non-agricultural seasonal workers), H-1B visas (specialty occupation workers) and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (extension of foreign student visas after graduation).

Indians account for the largest chunk of H-1B visa holders in the US. The senators said that there was no need for unemployed Americans to compete with foreigners in such a poor job market.