New US Presidential Proclamation Temporarily Suspends Major Nonimmigrant Visa Categories

On June 23, 2020, President Trump signed a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak.” The proclamation takes effect immediately and will continue until December 31, 2020, and can be expanded if necessary.  As a result, more than half a million jobseekers will be unable to enter the country, at least temporarily.

The proclamation states that the reason for this action is to “protect unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs.” Due to the economic hardship caused by the pandemic, the rates of unemployment in the US are at an all-time high as demand for both skilled and unskilled labor falls to record low levels.

The proclamation bars the entry of nonimmigrants to the US by freezing visas including:

  • H-1B or H-2B visa and any alien accompanying them
  • L visa used for intracompany employee transfers
  • J visa to the extent the alien is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program.
  • However, certain categories of immigrants like medical professionals, spouses/children of US citizens have been exempted from this suspension.

The suspension and limitation on entry will only apply to any alien who:

  • is outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation (June 24, 2020);
  • does not have a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
  • does not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.

The suspension and limitation will not apply to:

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any alien who is the spouse or child, as defined in section 101(b)(1) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1)), of a United States citizen;
  • any alien seeking to enter the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain; and
  • any alien whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.

The proclamation does not refer to any restrictions to TN, E-1 E-2, E-3, and O-1 nonimmigrant worker visas and appears that these remain unaffected at this point. Employees currently in the US seeking to change their nonimmigrant status or apply for extensions within the US should not generally be adversely affected, however, employers should contact counsel for advice about individual circumstances.

The proclamation extends Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020, which suspended the entry of aliens on immigrant visas, subject to certain exceptions, for a period of sixty days and other changes to the immigration process.

It is our view that as a result of this proclamation, current H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 nonimmigrant visa holders should avoid travel at this time and, if travel is essential, check the validity of their existing nonimmigrant visas prior to leaving the US in order to avoid being subjected to an entry ban.

If you have any concerns or if any of the above situations apply to you and you would like to discuss your options, please contact Abbey DochertyElannie DamianosAllan Rooney, or Tim Davis, or call us on 212 545 8022.

 

This article is one of a series intended to de-mystify common legal issues for the non-lawyer and entrepreneur audience – they are designed to foster discussion and is by no means exhaustive. These materials are for informational purposes only. Nothing herein is intended nor should be regarded as legal advice. The distribution of this article to any person does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Rooney Nimmo assumes no liability in connection with the use of this publication. This bulletin is considered attorney advertising under the applicable rules of New York state. Rooney Nimmo UK is regulated by the Law Society of Scotland and Rooney Nimmo US by the New York rules of professional conduct. All attorneys and solicitors listed in this firm stipulate their jurisdictional limitations. Rooney Nimmo in the USA is a law firm registered as a New York State professional corporation.

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