On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed a new proclamation entitled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak.” This is a policy continuation from a Proclamation issued on April 22, 2020 that suspended immigrant visas from being issued for 60 days.
Under the new Proclamation, the immigrant visa ban continues through the end of the year, until December 31, 2020. Additionally, the Proclamation includes additional nonimmigrant visa categories to the ban, including H-1B, H-2B, certain J-1, and L-1 visa holders and their dependents.
While the Proclamation indicates that the basis is to protect the American labor market during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that H-1B and H-2B petitioners are required to conduct a labor market test indicating that there are no American workers that can fill the intended job. Additionally, many business owners oppose the ban, indicating that it will have a negative impact on the economy and their ability to financially recover from issues related to COVID-19.
Here are the main takeaways from the new Proclamation:
- It affects H-1B (specialty occupation), H-2B (temporary non-agricultural), certain J-1, and L-1 (intracompany transferee) visa applicants.
- The only J-1 categories impacted are interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs, and summer work travel program participants. It does not affect other J-1 categories, including exchange students and research scholars.
- It applies to those who are currently outside of the country and do not have a valid visa or travel document as of the date of the Proclamation.
- It does not impact those within the United States who are seeking a change of status or an extension of status to one of the named visa categories.
- Exceptions include current lawful permanent residents, a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, a person seeking to enter the United States “to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United State food supply chain,” or those whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security.
- In addition to the visa bans, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security are directed to create new regulations impacting current H-1B visa holders whose employers may have petitioned for them under the EB-2 or EB-3 immigrant visa categories.
- The Proclamation goes into effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. EST.
While U.S. Embassies and Consulates remain closed due to COVID-19 concerns, effectively banning all new visas being issued on its own, this new Proclamation will have a huge impact on employers seeking to sponsor employees in the named categories. It also creates hardships and uncertainties for many employees and immigrants to the country. Based on the Proclamation, we should expect additional harsh labor and immigration regulations to come in the near future.
If you have any questions regarding visitor visas or immigration law updates, please contact Leech Tishman’s Immigration Practice Group.
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