On June 22, 2020, President Trump issued a Proclamation suspending the U.S. entry of foreign nationals under the H-1B (highly skilled worker), H-2B (guest worker), J (exchange visitor), and L (intra-company transferee) employment visa categories. The suspension also applies to the dependent spouse and children of individuals in these visa categories. The suspension takes effect on June 24, 2020, and is set to expire on December 31, 2020. The administration will review the Proclamation every 60 days to determine whether modifications, including a potential extension of the suspension, are necessary.
Significantly, the Proclamation does not apply to the following individuals:
- Individuals in the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (June 24, 2020).
- Individuals who hold a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation.
- Individuals who hold an official travel document other than a visa (such as an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation, or issued on any date thereafter that permits the individual to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.
- Individuals who seek to enter the United States in J-1 status other than as an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program participant.
- Individuals who hold or seek to enter the United States in other U.S. immigration statuses, such as E-2, E-3, F-1, TN, O-1, P-1, and R-1.
The Proclamation also exempts individuals in other limited circumstances, including:
- Spouses and children of U.S. citizens.
- Foreign workers who will provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain.
- Individuals whose U.S. entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Department of Homeland Security, or their designees. Examples include those who are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States, and those providing medical care or research related to COVID-19.
In addition to suspending the U.S. entry of certain foreign workers as outlined above, the Proclamation extends the existing suspension on green card processing for individuals outside the United States. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will continue processing adjustment of status green card applications within the United States.
The Proclamation does not directly address visa renewals or treatment of Canadians who do not require work visas. It is also unclear whether individuals who are present in the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation and who hold valid visas may leave the United States and seek re-entry under a different visa classification. Further, the Trump administration will likely face litigation related to this Proclamation from U.S. businesses, universities, and other organizations seeking U.S. entry for the foreign workers on whom they rely to meet their employment needs. We will provide updates to this Alert as this situation evolves.
Because U.S. entry requirements and restrictions change frequently, we recommend that all foreign nationals contact their immigration attorney before leaving the United States.