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Presidential Proclamation Impacts H-1B, L-1 and Certain NIV Categories

  • July 7, 2020
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The U.S. President, Donald J. Trump, issued a Presidential Proclamation on June 22, 2020 to impact certain non-immigrant visas (NIVs) specifically those on H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and certain categories of J visas, as well as their family members on dependent status. The Proclamation became effective on June 24, 2020.

Extends Prior Ban Against Immigrants Entering the U.S.

The Proclamation or Executive Order has extended the travel ban previously issued on April 22, 2020 against immigrant visa holders, until December 31, 2020. Spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, as defined in section 101(b)(1) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1)), is not affected by this order. This also does not apply to those who are lawful permanent residents.

Reason for Banning Immigrants and Certain Non-Immigrants

Both Executive Orders use the global health pandemic of COVID-19 and the need to protect American jobs during the emergency, as the reason to prevent entry into the U.S. of both immigrants and non-immigrants, until December 31, 2020. The President may extend or amend the Orders.

Potential Additional Restrictions Against H1B Holders

Further, the Order indicates that a reformation of the H-1B program is on the cards, prioritizing workers with the highest wages, ensuring that only the highest-skilled applicants are admitted into the United States. This press release can be found here.

June 29, 2020 Amendment to the Proclamation/Order

The President issued an amendment to the proclamation within a week, on June 29, 2020. The amendment clarifies that the Proclamation will not affect persons holding a valid H or L or J visa or a dependent visa, as of June 24, 2020. All such persons may travel using their existing valid visas.  At this time, it is not clear if such applicants will be able to renew their visas at the consulate.

Those Exempt from the Restrictions Imposed by the Order

The Proclamation does not have any impact on eligible visa applicants who are already in the U.S. and does not seem to affect any application for change of status or extension of status filed with the USCIS within the U.S.

Possible Options for Family Members

Dependent family members may be eligible to apply for the B-1/B-2 tourist visa or the F-1 student visa, when the U.S. consular posts reopen. It is important to understand that such visas should not be used to circumvent the law. However, if the applicant has strong ties to the home country and his / her genuine intent is to make a short trip to visit the U.S., then a B-2 may be an option for some. Similarly, if the applicant is genuinely interested in pursuing education in the U.S., then s/he may consider the F-1 student status route.

It is important to reiterate that such options should not be used to circumvent the H-4, L-2 or J-2 status for those who wish to join the primarily applicant on a long-term basis as dependents. Whatever route one chooses, one needs to be honest and transparent on the visa application and during the visa interview.

We will continue to monitor this important subject and keep our readers informed.