Jun 25, 2020

President Trump’s Nonimmigrant Travel Ban for H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 Visa Holders Effective June 24, 2020 Through December 31, 2020

Immigration Travel Ban

On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending and limiting the entry of H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and certain J-1 nonimmigrants effective June 24, 2020 and lasting through December 31, 2020.  The ban also includes the H-4, L-2 and J-2 family members of those impacted.

In addition, the proclamation extends the existing ban on certain immigrants seeking to enter the United States permanently through the end of year.

This proclamation is the latest in the President’s efforts to tighten US immigration policies, which continues to include the ongoing COVID-19 travel bans for certain persons who have been in China, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil or the European Schengen area in the last 14 days.

Who is affected by the nonimmigrant travel ban?

The ban suspends the entry of those entering the U.S. in one of the following categories:

  • H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrant workers;
  • J-1 interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pair, or summer work travel program visitors;
  • L-1A executives and managers;
  • L-1B specialized knowledge workers; and
  • Their dependent family members.

The suspension applies to the above-listed nonimmigrants only if they: (1) are outside of the U.S. on June 24 (12:01AM EST); and (2) do not have a nonimmigrant visa or other official travel document (i.e. advance parole, transportation letter or boarding foil) that is valid on June 24 (12:01AM EST). This means that foreign nationals who are already in the U.S. are not impacted, including those who are waiting to change status under the FY 2021 H-1B Cap. Similarly, those with a visa or travel document valid on the effective date, even if they are outside of the US on June 24, are also not impacted.

Other nonimmigrant visa holders, including B-1/B-2, E-1/E-2, F-1, TN, O, P, and others, are not impacted at this time.

Are there any other exemptions from the travel ban?

  • U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (i.e. green card holders).
  • Spouse or child of a U.S. citizen.
  • J-1 Physicians, Short-Term Scholars, Professor & Research Scholars, Specialists, Secondary School Students, and College & University Student Programs.
  • Any foreign national entering the U.S. to provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain.
  • Any foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest, including those who:
    • are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States;
    • are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
    • are involved with the provision of medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19; or
    • are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.

The standards and processes for obtaining a nonimmigrant travel ban waiver based on national interest grounds will be established by the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security over the coming days. Waivers of the nonimmigrant travel ban will be granted on a case-by-case basis and are expected to be highly discretionary and difficult to obtain.

What else do employers and their employees need to know?

The proclamation is expected to impact thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their families so employers in the United States will need to plan accordingly, including possibly delaying the start dates of impacted workers, looking to alternative nonimmigrant visa sponsorship (if practical and available), and/or applying for waivers of the travel ban.

Employers may continue employing and filing extensions with the Immigration Service on behalf of their workers who are present in the U.S. or hold a valid visa. However, employers must continue to work very closely with their designated SGR immigration attorney to ensure minimum disruptions to their workforce and global mobility programs as the Trump Administration continues its efforts to further limit (and in some cases entirely rescind) certain US employment-based immigration programs, including those related to H-1B, H-4 EAD, F-1 STEM OPT, and EB-2 and EB-3 green card sponsorship programs.

As several other travel bans continue to remain in effect, foreign nationals are advised to consult with their designed SGR immigration attorney before finalizing international travel plans to determine the impact of any applicable travel ban. Current travel challenges include difficulty renewing visa stamps abroad as U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide remain closed with very few and limited exceptions. Furthermore, early reports from travelers already indicate difficulties with reentering the United States as airline carriers and port of entry officers work through the initial confusion of how to best implement the new nonimmigrant travel ban. As many questions remain unanswered, including exactly how consular posts and U.S. ports of entry will enforce the new proclamation, foreign nationals are advised to exercise care and to plan ahead if travelling is necessary.

Please contact any member of SGR’s Global Immigration & Mobility Practice Group if you have any questions.

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