United States President Donald Trump on Thursday extended immigration bans on green cards and visas that allow foreign workers to temporarily work in the country till March 31, Reuters reported. Both the bans were scheduled to end on December 31.

Trump said the measures were needed to protect American workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely affected the economy. The Trump administration’s decision, ahead of the president demitting the office, is the latest in a series of measures to bar the entry of immigrants in the country.

“The effects of Covid-19 on the United States labor market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern,” Trump’s proclamation read, according to CNN. “The current number of new daily cases worldwide reported by the World Health Organization, for example, is higher than the comparable number present during June, and while therapeutics and vaccines are recently available for an increasing number of Americans, their effect on the labor market and community health has not yet been fully realized.”

President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20, has criticised the decision but not said if he would reverse them immediately. Trump’s order is in the form of a presidential proclamation that could be easily undone.

In April, Trump had banned signed an order that targeted people outside the US seeking to legally migrate to the country, with some exceptions, according to AP. The Trump administration then in June added H-1B, H-2B and a few others the list of banned visas. The H-1B visa is widely used by tech firms to bring in engineers and other skilled workers, many of whom are Indians, while the H-2B visa is for nonagricultural seasonal workers.

However, a federal court in October blocked the bans, saying in its ruling that the US president has “exceeded his authority”. Judge Jeffrey White said that that the Congress’ delegation of authority does not give the president the authority to set domestic policy in regards to the employment of nonimmigrant foreigners, adding that such a move would render the president’s Article II powers all but superfluous. The article concerned deals with the powers of the president of the United States.

Various companies in the US had opposed the ban. Manufacturers had approached the court to against the ban because the restrictions both undermined the industry at a critical time and conflicted with the law, Kelly said.

The Department of Justice had appealed against the decision in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is scheduled to hear arguments on January 19.