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Trump issues entry ban for certain non-immigrant visas, extends immigrant visa ban

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Yesterday, June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a new Presidential Proclamation, “Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak.”

The proclamation bans the issuance of H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1 and L-2 non-immigrant visas and extends the bar on the issuance of certain categories of immigrant visas through December 31, 2020.

The proclamation takes effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 am eastern time.

The proclamation addresses two types of visas: temporary non-immigrant visa categories and permanent immigrant visa categories.

Non-immigrant visas

The proclamation suspends the entry of foreign nationals from abroad into the USA in the following visa categories:

-H-1B (professional, specialty occupation visas);
- H-4 (dependent spouses and minor children of H-1B visa holders);
- H-2B (seasonal workers);
- L-1A (multinational executives and managers);
- L-1B (multinational employees with specialized knowledge);
- L-2 (dependent spouses and minor children of L-1A/B visa holders);
- J-1 (cultural exchange visitors in the following categories: teacher, au pair, intern, trainee, camp counselor or summer work/travel); and
- J-2 (dependent spouses and minor children of J-1 visa holders).

The suspension on entry into the USA lasts through at least the end of 2020. The suspension on entry only applies to people who are outside of the United States and who were not in possession of a valid visa on June 24, 2020 or do not hold a valid travel document (for example, a valid Advanced Parole travel document).

This means that if you are outside the USA and do not have a valid H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1, L-2, J-1 or J-2 visa on June 24, 2020, you will not be able to apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy abroad or enter the USA in H, L or J status until at least January of 2021.

Those currently outside of the USA who do hold valid, expired H, J or L visas should consider returning to the United States prior to the expiration of their current visas.  However, travel plans must be carefully made because of other COVID-19 travel restrictions that remain in effect, including travel restrictions for non-immigrants who have spent time in Schengen countries in Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Iran, China or Brazil within the 14 days immediately preceding their entry.

Importantly, the proclamation does not affect people who are already in the USA in H-1B, H-4, L-1, L-2, J-1 or J-2 status.

The proclamation does not impact the ability to apply for or receive an approval of an application for a change or extension of status to these non-immigrant categories with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

However, a non-immigrant worker who is in the USA in any of the above statuses, and does not hold a valid visa in the appropriate category, should not travel outside the United States, as they may not be able to receive a new visa and return to the USA until at least 2021.

The proclamation contains exceptions for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens; workers essential to food-supply chains; and other workers whose entry is in the “national interest,” which may include immigrants who are critical to defense, law enforcement, diplomacy or national security; immigrants who are involved with the provision of medical care or medical research related to COVID-19; and children who could “age out” of their eligibility for a visa prior to the expiration of the visa ban.

The proclamation does not impact other non-immigrant categories such as B1/B2, E1, E2, E3, F1, O, P, Q, R, T, or U. Additionally, Canadians, who are “visa exempt”, may be able to continue to process L-1 port of entry packages, although the availability of this option is not yet clear.

Immigrant visas

On April 22, 2020, the Trump Administration issued its “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.” Therein, the Administration announced the suspension of the issuance of certain categories of immigrant visas (lawful permanent residence visas) at U.S. Embassies abroad. For a complete outline of the Trump Immigrant Visa Ban, please review our blog post here.

The April 22, 2020 order was initially set to last for 60 days. However, on June 22, 2020, the Administration announced that the immigrant visa ban would be extended through December 31, 2020.

The immigrant visa ban applies to most employment-based immigrant visa categories, including EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 immigrants. It also applies to family based preference relatives, such as spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (F-2A preference category), adult children of U.S. citizens (F-1 and F-3 preference categories) and siblings of U.S. citizens (F-4 preference category).

There are many exceptions to the immigrant visa ban. For example, the immigrant visa ban does not apply to people currently in the USA, spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens or EB-5 investors. Nor does the immigrant visa ban apply to people who already have lawful permanent resident status (regardless of whether they are in the USA or outside the country) or a valid immigrant visa issued to them prior to April 23, 2020. The immigrant visa ban also contains exceptions for immigrants seeking to enter the USA as a physician, nurse or other healthcare professional or to perform work essential to combating or recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as those professionals’ spouse and minor children.

Practical impact of the proclamation

Although the U.S. embassies have been closed for routine visa services since March 2020, many employers, families and individuals were hopeful that we would see a reopening of the embassies for processing of nonimmigrant and immigrant visas over the summer months.

This proclamation effectively closes the door on employers sponsoring talented individuals from abroad to fill needed temporary and permanent specialized positions within their organizations for the duration of Trump’s first term in office.

The proclamation prevents schools and school districts needing teachers with foreign language skills from bringing in J-1 teachers for the 2020/21 school year to support English language learners or teach in for dual language immersion programs.

The proclamation restricts foreign executives and managers of multinational corporations from traveling to USA to oversee or grow businesses established in the United States.

The proclamation stops the construction and landscaping industries from bringing in workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions that they has struggled to fill.

For more information on the non-immigrant and immigrant entry bans, and how it affects you, your business, your family or your employees, please contact Kolko & Casey, P.C.

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