Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
On June 20, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation that suspends the entry of foreign nationals on certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas into the United States. The full text of this Presidential Proclamation is available online at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-immigrants-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-economic-recovery-following-covid-19-outbreak/. The Proclamation takes effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM ET. It will remain in effect through December 31, 2020 and may be continued or modified as necessary.
Suspension of Certain Employment-based Nonimmigrant Travel Visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates
The Proclamation suspends the issuance of visas for those seeking entry pursuant to a(n):
- H-1B visa and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them;
- H-2B visa and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them;
- J visa, to the extent the foreign national is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them; and
- L visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them.
The Proclamation will only apply to an individual identified above if he or she is:
- Outside the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation;
- Does not have a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation; and
- Does not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document), valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued thereafter permitting the individual to be admitted to the United States.
Therefore, individuals presently in the U.S. may continue filing petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) in order to either extend their current H-1B, H-2B, J, or L visa status or to change from their present visa status to one of these work visa categories. However, until this Presidential Proclamation is rescinded, individuals who either extend or change to one of these visa categories through USCIS will not be able to travel abroad and obtain from U.S. Embassies or Consulates new visas in these categories allowing them to return to the U.S. and resume their employment.
Exemptions under the New Presidential Proclamation
Also, the Proclamation will not apply to the following individuals:
- Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPRs” or “green card holders”);
- Spouse or child of a U.S. citizen;
- Any individual seeking entry to provide temporary labor essential to the U.S. food supply chain;
- Any individual whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.
For the purposes of determining who is covered under the “national interest” exemption, the Proclamation directs the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security to determine standards for those to whom such an exemption would be available, including any individuals who:
- Are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States;
- Are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
- Are involved with the provision of medical research at U.S. facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19;
- Are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States; or
- Are children who would age out of eligibility for a visa because of this proclamation or Proclamation 10014.
Consular officers will have discretion to determine whether an individual is within one of the exempted categories above.
Extension of Presidential Proclamation 10014
This Proclamation also extends, effective immediately, Presidential Proclamation 10014 issued on April 22, 2020 which suspended the entry of certain immigrants into the United States. Specifically, Presidential Proclamation 10014 suspends the entry of any individual seeking to enter the U.S. as an immigrant who:
- Is outside the United States on the effective date of the proclamation;
- Does not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date; and
- Does not have a valid official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) on the effective date, or issued on any date thereafter that permits travel to the United States to seek entry or admission.
The following categories are exempted from Presidential Proclamation 10014:
- LPRs (green card holders)
- Individuals, and their spouses or children, seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional; to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19; or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees)
- Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
- Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of DHS and State based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees)
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
- Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification)
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).