Trump suspends H-1B, other work visas till year end

News Network
June 23,2020

Jun 23: US President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation to suspend issuing of H-1B visas, which is popular among Indian IT professionals, along with other foreign work visas for the rest of the year.

Trump said the step was essential to help millions of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic crisis.

Issuing the proclamation ahead of the November presidential elections, Trump has ignored the mounting opposition to the order by various business organisations, lawmakers and human rights bodies.

The proclamation that comes into effect on June 24, is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the US government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning October 1.

They would now have to wait at least till the end of the current year before approaching the US diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.

“In the administration of our Nation's immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labour market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour,” said the proclamation issued by Trump.

In his proclamation, Trump said that the overall unemployment rate in the United States nearly quadrupled between February and May of 2020 -- producing some of the most extreme unemployment rates ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While the May rate of 13.3 percent reflects a marked decline from April, millions of Americans remain out of work.

The proclamation also extends till the end of the year his previous executive order that had banned issuing of new green cards of lawful permanent residency.

Green card holders, once admitted pursuant to immigrant visas, are granted "open-market" employment authorisation documents, allowing them immediate eligibility to compete for almost any job, in any sector of the economy, he said.

“American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work. Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers,” Trump said.

“Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programmes can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain non-immigrant visa programmes authorising such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers,” he said.

For example, Trump said, between February and April of 2020, more than 17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas.

“During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions,” he said.

“Also, the May unemployment rate for young Americans, who compete with certain J non-immigrant visa applicants, has been particularly high -- 29.9 percent for 16-19-year-olds, and 23.2 percent for the 20-24-year-old group,” he said.

“The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L non-immigrant visa programmes, therefore, presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Trump said.

Trump observed that excess labour supply is particularly harmful to workers at the margin between employment and unemployment -- those who are typically "last in" during an economic expansion and "first out" during an economic contraction.

In recent years, these workers have been disproportionately represented by historically disadvantaged groups, including African Americans and other minorities, those without a college degree, and Americans with disabilities, he said.

The proclamation suspends and limits entry into the US of H-1B, H-2B and L visas and their dependents till December 31, 2020. It also includes certain categories of J visas like an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, or summer work travel programme.

The new rule would apply only to those who are outside the US, do not have a valid non-immigrant visa and an official travel document other than a visa to enter the country.

According to the proclamation, it does not have an impact on lawful permanent residents of the United States and foreign nationals who are spouses or child of an American citizen.

Foreign nationals seeking to enter the US to provide temporary labour or services essential to the food supply chain are also exempted from the latest proclamation.

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Delay in action against person who posted controversial content triggered Bengaluru violence: Cong

News Network
August 12,2020

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Bengaluru, Aug 12: Karnataka Congress working president Saleem Ahmed on Wednesday alleged that the delay in police action against the person who posted controversial content on social media had triggered violence in Bengaluru.

"A post was put up by a person on the social media but police did not take immediate action. The delay in action against the person who posted the content had created tension in the area. They should have taken immediate action who had posted this," Ahmed told ANI.

"Congress MLA immediately said that the person who posted the content had nothing to do with him. He condemned it," he said.

Responding to Karnataka Minister CT Ravi's claim that violence was "planned riot" and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) is behind it, the Congress leader said that it is totally irresponsible and wrong statement.

"We do not agree with such statements. These are his political statements," he said.

Three people were killed and several others suffered injuries after violence erupted in the eastern part of the city on Tuesday night over a social media post allegedly made by Congress MLA Srinivas Murthy's nephew Naveen.

110 persons accused of arson, stone-pelting and assault on the police have been arrested in connection with the violence. Accused Naveen has also been arrested now.

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New Zealand mulls lockdown extension as coronavirus spreads

News Network
August 13,2020

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Wellington, Aug 13: New Zealand health officials said Wednesday a Covid-19 cluster in Auckland had grown, raising the prospect a lockdown imposed on the country's biggest city after the virus returned will be extended.

National health director-general Ashley Bloomfield said a high school student in Auckland had tested positive, taking the number of confirmed infections to five, with another four probable cases.

"This is someone who was a close contact with one of our existing confirmed cases," Bloomfield told TVNZ.

Health authorities rushed to implement a lockdown in the country's largest city after testing revealed four family members had contracted the virus from an unknown source.

It ended New Zealand's much envied run of 102 days without community transmission, and resulted in a three-day stay-at-home order in Auckland which ends at midnight Friday.

Bloomfield said it was "almost certain" more cases would emerge, and teams of health workers were racing to find the cluster's origin.

"We want to find out how large it is as soon as possible, so we've been testing all close contacts, casual contacts, workplace, family related," he said.

"This is what we want to do as quickly as possible to find out how extensive the outbreak is and who the first case might have been."

He said any decision on extending the lockdown depended on what the investigations uncovered over the next 24 hours.

"It's too early to say... we'll have a lot more information tomorrow," he said.

He played down one line of inquiry investigating whether the virus was imported via freight, then picked up by a male member of the family, who worked in a cool room for imported goods.

"It's a possibility -- it's unlikely but it's something we need to rule out," Bloomfield said, adding that another focus was whether the infection came from managed isolation facilities.

Despite New Zealand's previous success in containing the virus -- with just 22 deaths in a population of five million -- Bloomfield said health authorities had always anticipated the return of Covid-19, even it had taken some Kiwis by surprise.

"Yes we were becoming complacent and that's why our message over the last few weeks has been around avoiding that," he said.

"As you'll recall, last week I was talking about when -- not if."

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Will Ramdev’s Patanjali bid for IPL title sponsorship after Vivo's exit?

News Network
August 10,2020

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Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved is considering bidding for the 2020 IPL edition following the sudden exit of Chinese smartphone maker Vivo, according to a report by media. 

"We are considering the IPL title sponsorship for this year, since we want to give the Patanjali brand a global marketing platform" Patanjali spokesperson S K Tijarawala told the publication.

According to the report, names of several high-profile companies like Jio, Amazon, Tata Group and Adani have been doing the rounds as potential candidates for the IPL sponsorship, which is expected to draw in big advertising numbers despite playing outside India owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vivo made a sudden exit from the 2020 IPL edition following an intense call to boycott Chinese products and strained Sino-India relations after the clash in Galwan Valley in East Ladakh, but may return in 2021 for a three-year period.

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