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Presidential Proclamation Suspends Issuance of Certain Temporary Work Visas

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On April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a Proclamation to suspend the issuance of most immigrant visas starting 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 23, 2020 for 60 days: https://www.niwus.com/resources/presidential-proclamation-suspends-issuance-of-most-immigrant-visas-at-u-s-consulates.

According to a new Proclamation signed on June 22, 2020, that suspension is still in effect. The new Proclamation now extends the suspension of visa issuance and entry to selected nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B, H-2B, J, and L, starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on June 24, 2020 and will remain in effect through December 31, 2020, with a chance of continuation.

Importantly, this Proclamation does not apply to foreign nationals currently in the United States.

As detailed in the Proclamation, the following nonimmigrants visa classifications are affected:

  • H-1B or H-2B visas, and any foreign nationals accompanying or following to join;
  • J visa in the following categories intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any foreign nationals accompanying or following to join; and
  • L visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join such alien.

The suspension will apply to a foreign national who is:

  • outside the United States on the effective date of this Proclamation;
  • does not have a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
  • does not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.

Specifically, the Proclamation prevents individuals with an H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visa, and any foreign national accompanying them, from entering the United States if they are currently outside of the United States and do not have a valid visa or travel document as of June 24, 2020.

There are certain exceptions to this rule. Individuals who are exempt from these limitations include:

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any foreign national who is the spouse or child of a United States citizen;
  • any foreign national seeking to enter the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain; and
  • any foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

Whether a foreign national is deemed to fall under one of these exceptions will be at the consular officer’s discretion. Additionally, the Secretary of Labor with the Secretary of Homeland Security will determine whether those pursuing an EB-2, EB-3, or H-1B visa will disadvantage United States workers and take action accordingly, not limited to requiring those aliens to register with biographical and biometric information.

The Proclamation also instructs the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security to review and make recommendations related to nonimmigrant visa programs within the next 30 days of the effective date and every 60 days thereafter.

It is not clear exactly how the government will implement the Proclamation. At this time, we encourage clients present in the United States in any nonimmigrant visa classification to consult with their attorney before making plans to leave the United States to properly assess the risks related to travel and the possibility that they may not be allowed to re-enter the United States.

As usual, our office will continue to monitor the situation closely and will advise clients of any further updates.

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