Immigration Update - Travel Ban
On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation that will suspend certain visas that allow certain foreigners to move to the U.S. temporarily to work, stating that the restrictions will ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for American citizens.
The proclamation means that many foreign nationals with plans to enter the United States to begin work on H-1B, H-2B, L-1 or J-1 status, as well as their accompanying or joining dependents, may be unable to do so until the ban expires, unless they are sponsored for and obtain a waiver of the entry restrictions. Or, needless to say, unless President Trump’s ban is halted by a court.
These bans take effect at 12:01 am EDT on June 24, 2020 and will be in place through December 31, 2020 but can be extended by the government if deemed necessary. However, the proclamation and future regulatory actions are likely to be challenged in court. Further, please bear in mind, even if this ban does not affect you directly, foreign nationals remain subject to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, which could impede their ability to enter or reenter the United States (see here for more information on travel from Canada and Mexico, and herefor information on travel from elsewhere).
Who is affected?
The order restricts the entry of the following categories of nonimmigrants (nonimmigrants being foreigners entering the U.S. temporarily as opposed to immigrants who intend to stay permanently), if they are outside the United States as of 12:01am EDT on June 24 and do not hold a valid visa, advance parole or other U.S. travel document:
H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrants;
L-1A executives and managers;
L-1B specialized knowledge workers;
J-1 interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs and Summer Work Travel participants; and
Their dependent spouses and children.
In addition to the ban on these nonimmigrant visas, the proclamation further extends an earlier ban on immigrant entry, which was set to expire on June 23,2020, now through December 31. For more information on this specific ban please see our article from April 23, 2020 here.
Who is not affected?
The order does not cover: B-1/B-2; E-1/E-2; F-1; P-1; O-1 and others not listed in the proclamation and has no effect whatsoever on any petitions or applications that are filed domestically with the USCIS. In any case, employers may continue filing PERM labor certifications. There is also no suspension on all preliminary filing steps for all categories of green cards. Further, the impact on Canadian nationals seeking admission in these categories – who are not required to obtain a visa to enter the United States – is not yet clear.
What Can You Do and Who Is Exempt?
The order does provide for discretionary waivers of the restrictions for foreign nationals whose entry would be in the U.S.’s national interest, including those who are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States, those involved with clinical care or research related to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of COVID-19, and those who are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy or national security of the United States. The ban also does not affect foreign nationals holding valid U.S. visas or other travel documents, or those already present in the United States as of the effective date of the ban.
Author: Jennifer Kleinman and Daniel Koburger
First Published: 06/24/2020