Several tech giants severely criticised United States President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend several categories of foreign work visas, including the H1-B.

The proclamation signed by Trump is scheduled to come into effect on June 24. A huge number of Indian IT professionals and companies, already issued visas for 2021 in October last year, will now have to wait till the end of the year to get them stamped by the authorities. The move will also hit workers seeking a renewal of their visas.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. In April, foreign technology professionals holding H-1B visas had demanded the extension of their permissible post-job loss limit to stay in the US from the existing 60 to 180 days amid fears of layoffs.

Alphabet Inc Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai highlighted the contribution of immigrants to America’s economy. “Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today,” he tweeted. “Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”

An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that the order may put America’s competitiveness with world economies at risk. “Preventing high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts American’s global competitiveness at risk,” the official said. “The value of high-skilled visa programs is clear.”

Twitter’s Vice President of Public Policy and Philanthropy Jessica Herrera-Flanigan said that Trump’s order undermines the country’s “greatest economic asset” that is its diversity. “People from all over the world come here to join our labour force, pay taxes, and contribute to our global competitiveness on the world stage,” she added.

A spokesperson of social networking site Facebook said that the order suspending the visas uses the pandemic as a justification to restrict immigration. “In reality, the move to keep highly-skilled talent out of the US will make our country’s recovery even more difficult,” the official told NBC News.

The order received intense criticism from other quarters as well. Journalist Tim Morris tweeted: “An order by President Trump will temporarily limit a variety of visas, including some that immigrants use to enter the US to do work ranging from landscaping to tech.”

The US corporate sector said the order will take a toll on innovation, redirect investment and economic activity abroad, slow down growth and curb job creation. “Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration,” CEO of US Chambers of Commerce Thomas Donohue said, according to PTI. “Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back.” Before the formal assent to the order, several business bodies had written to Trump against the move.

Human right organisations, politicians criticise order

Trump’s Monday order drew criticism from American politicians, with Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi saying he was “deeply disappointed”. “I urge him to reverse this decision to help ensure our health care system and broader economy are ready to combat the next phase of [coronavirus] pandemic and to create the jobs we need for our economic recovery,” he said, according to PTI.

American politicians Congress Bill Pascrell, Ro Khanna, and Dick Durbin have said the decision was not the correct approach.

Human rights organisations also hit out at the Trump administration over the order. The American Immigration Lawyers Association said the ban on issuing H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 will severely impact employers, universities, hospitals, and delay the recovery of the American economy. “President Donald Trump also extended his administration’s April order banning the admission of legal permanent residents which has already separated families and weakened communities,” it said.

The American Immigration Council said the new order was a thinly-veiled attempt to completely shift the country’s immigration policy.