President Trump has issued a Proclamation that suspends the entry of foreign nationals on certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas into the United States. The Proclamation takes effect on June 24, 2020 at 12:01 AM ET. It will remain in effect through December 31, 2020 and may be continued or modified, as necessary.
The Proclamation suspends the entry of any foreign national who is seeking to enter the U.S. pursuant to a(n):
- H-1B visa or H-2B visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them;
- J visa, to the extent the foreign national is participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them; and
- L visa, and any foreign national accompanying or following to join them.
The Proclamation will only apply to an individual identified above if they are:
- Outside the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation;
- Do not have a nonimmigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of the Proclamation; and
- Do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document), valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued thereafter permitting the individual to be admitted to the United States.
Exemptions – The Proclamation will not apply to the following individuals:
- a) lawful permanent residents;
- b) spouse or child of a U.S. citizen;
- c) any individual seeking entry to provide temporary labor essential to the U.S. food supply chain;
- d) any individual whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.
For the purposes of determining who is covered under the “national interest” exemption, the Proclamation directs the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security to determine standards for those to whom such an exemption would be available, including any individuals who:
- a) are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United States;
- b) are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized;
- c) are involved with the provision of medical research at U.S. facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19;
- d) are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States; or
- e) are children who would age out of eligibility for a visa because of this Proclamation or Proclamation 10014.
It is important to note that the Proclamation does NOT suspend all entry of individuals who hold nonimmigrant visas. The Proclamation specifically applies to individuals who must apply for nonimmigrant visas outside the country and subsequently travel to the U.S. and who do not have an alternative travel document (such as Advance Parole) that permits them to travel to the U.S. and seek entry or admission.
TN, E-1 E-2, E-3, and O-1 nonimmigrant worker visas remain unaffected. Employees currently in the U.S. seeking to change their nonimmigrant status or apply for extensions within the U.S. will not be affected by this Proclamation.
Given this Proclamation and additional COVD-19 related travel restrictions that are currently in effect, all current H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and J-1 nonimmigrant visa holders should avoid international travel. If travel is absolutely necessary, it is strongly advised that you discuss with our office first and that you ensure the validity of your current nonimmigrant visa prior to leaving the U.S.
At this early stage, there is still uncertainty regarding how the Proclamation will be implemented and who may be exempted. We are awaiting clarification from the government and will update you as we receive more information.
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Effective February 24, 2020, USCIS will begin imposing much more stringent requirements related to “public charge”. An individual who is deemed likely to become a “public charge” will be found inadmissible to the U.S.
USCIS defines a “public charge” as an individual who is likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.” In determining whether an individual meets this definition for public charge inadmissibility, a number of factors will be considered, including age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, education, and skills. No single factor will determine whether an individual is a public charge.
These new requirements will apply to all applicants for admission to the U.S., individuals who are seeking to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident (“green card”) in the U.S. and those who hold a nonimmigrant visa and are seeking to extend their stay in the same nonimmigrant classification or to change their status to a different nonimmigrant classification.
In order for USCIS to make a determination as to whether an individual will likely become a “public charge”, the government will now require the completion of a new, burdensome form (Form I-944) and the submission of extensive supporting documentation (including, but not limited to, the individual’s financial and educational documents) with any adjustment of status application. For applications for extension of stay or change of non-immigrant status, USCIS has revised existing forms to include specific questions regarding public charge. Supporting evidence will also be required for these applications.
We understand that these new requirements will make the already complex U.S. immigration process even more difficult and frustrating but we pledge to do our best to develop efficient practices and procedures to help our clients deal with these matters in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
Please contact our office if you have any questions.