Question: Which visas does the June 22, 2020 proclamation affect?
On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation, extending and expanding upon a prior proclamation. This proclamation prevents foreign nationals that were issued an immigrant visa abroad after April 24, 2020, from entering the US. Additionally, this proclamation suspends the issuance of H-1Bs, H-2Bs, L-1s, and J-1s at consulates after June 24. There are some exceptions to the proclamation. For example, the proclamation does not apply to US citizens or green card holders. Also exempt are spouses and minor children of US citizens, healthcare professional coming to assist with the pandemic, those who activities relate to the food supply chain, and anyone whose activities are of national interest. Understandly, many foreign nationals have questions about the impact the proclamation will have on them. I will do my best to answer these questions here.
This proclamation extends the April 22, 2020 proclamation. The April proclamation suspended entry for foreign nationals holding an immigrant visa issued on or after April 24, 2020. This extension includes all employment-based immigrant visas and preference category family-based immigrant visas. This proclamation also suspends entry for foreign nationals using an H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 visa issued on or after June 24, 2020. Additionally, foreign nationals cannot apply for these types of nonimmigrant visas, unless an exception applies to their case.
Notably, this proclamation does not apply to B-1 or B-2 visas or the ESTA program. Also, it does not apply to F-1 students, although other recent announcements will have detrimental effects on F-1s. Last, this proclamation does not affect the following visa categories: O-1, E-1, E-2, E-3, H1-B1, or TN.
Question: Is there a date on which the proclamation expires?
The proclamation took effect two days after issuance on June 24, 2020. It will expire on December 31, 2020. However, the proclamation includes language that will allow its extension, if needed.
Question: If the foreign national is currently inside the US in valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status, can the foreign national stay?
Yes. A foreign national inside the US in valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status can extend their status through USCIS. These foreign nationals may benefit from amended petitions filed with USCIS. Also, these foreign nationals may benefit from a change of employer petition. Dependents will also be able to extend their derivative status while in the US.
Question: If the foreign national is currently outside the US, but holds an unexpired H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 visa, can the foreign national use the visa to re-enter?
Maybe. If the foreign national received the H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 visa before June 24, 2020, and the visa is still valid at the time of entry, the visa may be used to enter the US. The same applies to dependents with valid derivative nonimmigrant visa types. Additionally, even if a foreign national never used the visa to enter the US previously, officials indicate that as long as the visa is valid and issued before June 24, 2020, it may be used to enter.
Question: If the foreign national is currently in a valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status, but does not hold an unexpired visa for re-entry, should the foreign national refrain from travelling abroad?
Foreign nationals in valid H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or J-1 status, who do not possess an unexpired visa should not depart the US. Foreign nationals can no longer apply for one of these nonimmigrant visas at an embassy or consulate overseas unless one of the exceptions applies. Also, embassies and consulates continue to suspend routine visa processing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, even if an exception applies, it will be difficult to obtain a visa. Because the numbers of COVID cases may surge in the coming months, and the possibility that proclamation may be extended, foreign nationals in any valid nonimmigrant status should refrain from traveling outside of the US if at all possible.
Question: If a foreign national is the beneficiary of an approved H-1B cap petition for the 2021 Fiscal Year (FY) with a start date of October 1, 2020, and is currently outside of the US, will the foreign national be able to apply for an H-1B visa and use it to enter the US to begin work on October 1, 2020, or soon after that?
No. Based on current guidance, a foreign national who is the beneficiary of an approved FY2021 H-1B cap petition, who is currently outside of the US will have to wait until the expiration of the proclamation before being eligible to apply for an H-1B visa, unless one of the exceptions applies.
Question: Does the proclamation prevent a foreign national in valid nonimmigrant status from filing an application for permanent residency (I-485)?
No. The proclamation does not prevent a foreign national in valid nonimmigrant status from filing an I-485 application. The proclamation also does not prevent a foreign national in US from applying for work authorization or a travel document.
Question: Who is cover under the “national interest” exception?
Under the proclamation, foreign nationals who are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the US would qualify under the exception. Others eligible under this exception include, (1) foreign nationals who provide medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19; (2) foreign nationals who are involved with medical research in the US to combat COVID-19; (3) foreign nationals who are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States; and (4) foreign nationals who would age out of eligibility for an immigrant visa because of the proclamation.
Question: Does this proclamation suspend ALL visa processing at US embassies or consulates around the world?
No, the proclamation does not suspend all visa processing. However, as of today, the DOS continues to suspend all routine visa processing due to the COVID pandemic.
Still have questions about how this proclamation affects you? Please call our office to discuss your case with one of our Ohio immigration lawyers.