Effective June 24, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation that extends his previous order that banned certain immigrant visas from being issued by the Department of State and suspends the entry of foreign nationals who are outside of the United States who need to apply for an H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 visa stamp. The restriction also applies to dependent family members who are outside of the U.S. and who need to apply for the corresponding dependent visa stamp. The impacted visa categories are: H-4, J-2, and L-2. Both bans are in effect through December 31, 2020. The ban does not apply to (1) lawful permanent residents; (2) spouses of a U.S. citizen; (3) minor children of a U.S. citizen; (4) certain “aging out” children; (5) individuals who have a valid Advance Parole document; and (6) individuals holding other official travel documents other than a visa (transportation letter or boarding foil). Because Canadians are visa-exempt, the ban does not apply to them.
The following FAQs, adapted from guidance provided by the Department of State, provides more details on who is and who is not affected:
Q: Are there any other exemptions to these bans?
A: Yes, exemptions may be available for foreign nationals providing temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food-supply chain, as well as for foreign nationals whose entry would be in the national interest of the U.S. Factors that will be considered to be in the national interest include individuals who are: (1) critical to defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the U.S.; (2) involved with the provision of medical care related to COVID-19 for individuals who are currently hospitalized; (3) involved with the provision of medical research at U.S. facilities to help the U.S. combat COVID-19; and (4) necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the U.S.
Q: I am already in the U.S. on one of the identified visas. What does this mean for me?
A: The Proclamation is not retroactive. No valid visas will be revoked under this Proclamation.
Q: I am in the U.S. but my visa will expire before December 31. Can I extend my stay?
A: Yes. Visa expiration is separate from authorized stay. Visa holders already legally in the U.S. do not need to renew their visa to remain. However, if you depart the U.S., you will need a valid visa to return.
Q: My dependents are outside the U.S. and do not hold H-4, L-2, or J-2 visas. Can they enter the U.S. as visitors using a B-2 visa stamp or visa waiver (ESTA)?
A: Yes, dependents holding valid B-2 visas as well as those from visa-waiver countries with approved ESTA registrations should be able to enter the U.S. during the entry ban period for brief visits, consistent with B-2 visa requirements or ESTA program restrictions.
Q: Can employers continue to file H-1B and L-1 petitions with USCIS seeking to change, amend, and extend status?
A: Yes, the entry ban does not affect an employer’s ability to file petitions with USCIS.
Q: I am currently in the U.S. but my H-1B or L-1 status is expiring during the entry-ban period. What should I do?
A. Your employer should file a petition to extend your status with USCIS. A timely filed H-1B petition can extend your work authorization in the U.S. for up to 240 days beyond your I-94 expiration date. For many L-1 workers on “Blanket Ls,” this process will be different than the L-1 Blanket process that you may have used when applying for previous L-1 visas.
Q: Does the entry ban affect employees on H-1B1 visas?
A: While the ban does not specifically apply to foreign nationals from Singapore and Chile who hold or will apply (once consulates reopen) for H-1B1 Free Trade visas, caution should be taken as this visa classification is often confused with H-1B visas, which can result in potential entry issues at the border.
Q: Which J visas are subject to the Proclamation?
A: The Proclamation applies to J visa holders “participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any alien accompanying or following to join such alien.” Foreign nationals in J-1 status who are completing degree programs and working pursuant to Academic Training are not affected by the travel ban. Physicians applying for a J visas are not subject to the Proclamation. Physicians seeking to enter the U.S. on an H-1B or L visa to provide medical care, or are involved in research related to COVID-19, may be considered for exceptions.
Q: Does this proclamation affect my ongoing green card process?
A: No. this proclamation does not affect a foreign national’s ability to apply for a green card through the filing of an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application.
Q: Will this impact Diversity Visa applicants?
A: Yes, for those outside of the U.S.