Presidential Proclamation Expanded to Ban Employment Visas

in Executive Order, Featured
January 1st, 2021

Immigrant and employment visa ban extended to March 31, 2021

The initial Presidential Proclamation entitled Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak that banned immigrant visa processing (entry to the US for those who plan to stay permanently) beginning on April 23, 2020 has now been extended to March 31, 2021.

In addition, the Presidential Proclamation has extended the visa processing ban to certain nonimmigrant categories involving employment in the US including visa applications for their dependent family members. This expanded visa processing began on June 24, 2020 and will now expire on March 31, 2021. This means that visa processing for the following nonimmigrant categories remains suspended:

  1. H1B, H2B and some H-4 dependent family members
  2. J-1 exchange visitors in only the intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and their dependent J-2 family members
  3. L-1 intracompany transfer employees and their L-2 dependent family members

This proclamation does not apply to individuals already in the U.S. or individuals who already hold a valid visa in one of these nonimmigrant categories. It also does not apply to J-1 exchange visitors in the Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, Professor, Specialist, Alien Physician, Student or Student Intern categories. Please see a detailed explanation of how this new ban could affect specific employees in our community.

The following are also excluded:

  • any lawful permanent resident of the United States;
  • any alien who is the spouse or child 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;
  • 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 following categories are exempted from the proclamation at the discretion of a consular officer:

  • Individuals and their spouses or children seeking to enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional to perform work essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees)
  • Individuals applying for a visa to enter the U.S. pursuant to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens 5. Children of U.S. citizens under the age of 21 and prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa
  • Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of DHS and State based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees)
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children
  • Individuals and their spouses or children eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification)
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees). The definition of who might qualify for the  National Interest Exception was expanded in August 2020.
  • Asylum applicants

The June 22, 2020 proclamation calls on the agencies to take substantial “additional measures,” such as:

Directing the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Labor, recommend any modifications as may be necessary within 30 days of June 24, 2020, and every 60 days thereafter while this proclamation is in effect.

Directing DOL and DHS to ensure compliance with the permanent labor certification (PERM) and temporary labor condition application (LCA) statutory rules that are designed to protect U.S. workers.

Directing DHS and DOS to ensure compliance with biographic and biometric data collection requirements.

Directing DHS to take appropriate and necessary steps, consistent with applicable law, to prevent certain aliens who have final orders of removal; who are inadmissible or deportable from the United States; or who have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a criminal offense in the United States, from obtaining eligibility to work in the United States.

Directing DHS to consider promulgating regulations or take other appropriate action regarding the efficient allocation of visas pursuant to section 214(g)(3) of the INA (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)(3)) and ensuring that the presence in the United States of H-1B nonimmigrants does not disadvantage United States workers.