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Trump Administration Issues New Proclamation Suspending Entry for Certain Non-Immigrants through December 31, 2020

Written by: Ashik R. Jahan, Esq.

President Trump’s latest Presidential Proclamation is effective as of June 24, 2020 and suspends entry of individuals in H-1B (specialty occupation), H-2B (temporary non-agricultural and seasonal workers), L-1 (multinational intracompany transferees) and J-1 (cultural and educational exchange visitors) visa categories, as well as their dependent family members, to the United States through December 31, 2020. It is important to distinguish that the limitation applies to visa applications at US consulates/embassies abroad.  Thus, individuals currently outside the U.S. who do not already have a valid visa and do not have an official travel document other than a travel visa (such as advance parole document) are directly impacted.

There are some exceptions to the limitations, such as entries that would be in the “national interest,” which includes some COVID-19 related medical care and research, those whose presence would assist in “economic recovery” of the U.S., and individuals critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy and national security of the U.S.   At this time, we are waiting further clarification from the White House on the specific details of the Proclamation and any exceptions that may apply.  Moreover, individuals who are already in the US should not be impacted by the Proclamation, nor does it impact those who are applying for extension applications in the U.S. with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  Further, lawful permanent residents, spouses of U.S. citizens, or those seeking asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal, or protection under the Convention Against Torture, are not impacted at this time.

In summary, the new Proclamation, along with the current closures of the U.S. consulates and embassies, effectively prevents the issuance of new visas abroad at least through December 31, 2020 and may even be continued thereafter “as necessary.” Additionally, within 30 days of June 24, 2020, and every 60 days thereafter while the order is in effect, additional recommendations and modifications are possible. This Proclamation itself is an expansion of the Administration’s April 22, 2020 executive order that suspended entry of individuals traveling to the U.S. on immigrant visas.  While the new Proclamation does not appear to disrupt the adjustment of status process for individuals already in the U.S. who are completing the PERM employment based green card, it does direct various government departments, such as the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, to promulgate new rules and regulations relating to the same, which is concerning.

In light of this Proclamation, international travel plans must be carefully considered for those without a visa already in their passport. Future changes from the Administration must also be carefully monitored to assess the impact on existing non-immigrant workers and their families.  As a result, we recommend that all immigration and travel plans for non-immigrant workers be carefully discussed and routinely reviewed with immigration counsel so that potential issues can be addressed in advance given the ever-changing landscape. Simply put, there is a lot that we do not yet know as it relates to this unprecedented Proclamation.  We will continue to update our immigration blog as more information is provided by the Administration.  Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Ashik Jahan directly at ajahan@hallboothsmith.com or 404.954.6971.