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Trump temporarily suspends visa issuance for some foreign workers in the USA

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On June 22, 2020, the extension of Presidential Proclamation 10,014 of April 22, 2020 was published, temporarily suspending the issuance of non-immigrant work visas in categories H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L, with some exceptions which will be explored below, for individuals who are outside the United States and have not yet had their visa stamped on their passport.

Who will be affected

People outside the U.S. on June 24 (Wednesday) applying specifically for the following visas:

  1. H-1B holders, their spouses and dependents;
  2. H-2B holders, their spouses and dependents;
  3. J-1 holders, their spouses and dependents;
  4. L-1A and L-1B, their spouses and dependents.

Who will not be affected

  1. Foreign workers who are outside the US applying for visas in the categories mentioned above, but who were excepted by the Presidential Proclamation:
    • American citizens, their spouses and dependents, and permanent residents (Green Card holders);
    • Foreign workers essential to the US food supply chain;
    • Foreign workers whose entry is of “national interest”, as determined by the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including individuals:
  • Critical to US defense, law enforcement, diplomacy or national security;
  • Involved in providing medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
  • Involved in medical research at US facilities to help the United States fight COVID-19; or
  • Necessary to facilitate the immediate and continuous economic recovery in the United States;
  • Minors, who would be out of eligibility for the visas specified above during the term of the Proclamation.

The Proclamation states that the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security are expected to establish standards to define categories of individuals covered by these “national interest” exemptions, but do not indicate when these standards will be published. 

The Consular Officer will exercise discretion when determining whether the applicant for the visas specified above is among one of the exceptions specified here.

2. Foreign workers under current non-immigrant visa status or with another entry authorization document (ESTA, advance parole, transportation letter or boarding foil) who are already on American territory.

3. Foreign workers who are outside the US but have valid visas in the categories mentioned above. These workers can enter the US using the current visa issued on June 24 as an entry document.

4. Canadian citizens, who are normally exempt from visas and are not subject to the ban on entry to the USA, which is only applicable to the aforementioned visas.

5. Foreigners who are outside the USA applying for a J-1 visa in the following programs: GME Physician, Research Scholar, Short-term Scholar, Professor or University Student.

6. Foreigners who are outside the USA applying for TN, O-1, E-1, E-2, E-3 and P-1 visa categories.

7. Foreigners outside the US applying for F-1 student visas and F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).

The complete Proclamation can be accessed here and will take effect from 00:01 on June 24 until 23:59 on December 31, 2020, which can be postponed or changed if necessary.

Also read a summary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

It is important to note that the issuance of all visas for foreigners who are outside the USA has already been limited since the closure of the US Consulates in the countries (in Brazil, since March 17), along with the restriction on the entry of people coming from countries like Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland and the European Union (countries in the area covered by the Schengen Treaty) and the United Kingdom.

After the reopening of the US Consulates and the relaxation of entry restrictions, this new Proclamation will have a practical effect, effectively restricting the issuance of visas in the categories specified above, limiting the ability of American employers to access foreign talent.

The same Proclamation also immediately extended the term of Presidential Proclamation 10,014, published on April 22, 2020, which suspended the issuance of immigrant visas for certain categories of workers.