On December 31, 2020, the Trump Administration issued Presidential Proclamation on Suspension of Entry of Immigrants and Nonimmigrants Who Continue to Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market, continuing restrictions on certain work visa and green card issuance through the end of March 2021. Citing improved but still persistent unemployment figures caused by COVID-19, the new Proclamation extended two prior executive actions that have limited employers’ ability to sponsor foreign workers for residency and work in the United States:
- Presidential Proclamation 10014, which suspended the issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants who were outside the United States as of April 24, 2020, and
- Presidential Proclamation 10052, which, as reported here, suspended new H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visa issuance for individuals who were outside the United States as of June 23, 2020; were not in possession of a nonimmigrant visa on that date; and have no other authorization to travel to the United States, such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole authorization. The Department of State (DOS) has confirmed that the ban does not prohibit visa applications and travel into the United States by H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrants who are resuming “ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.”
The new Proclamation adopts the prior Proclamations’ exemptions for various classes of individuals, including US citizens and their spouses, lawful permanent residents (or “green card” holders), among others. Notably, the new Proclamation does not include additional restrictions on visa or green card issuance, or alter the national interest exceptions that DOS has provided to those with urgent need to travel to the United States in order to support the United States’ recovery from COVID-19.
The new Proclamation comes on the heels of the DOS’s December 30, 2020 announcement that consular posts will resume routine visa services in the coming months—after nearly 9 months of consulates operating more limited operations (i.e., prioritizing emergency and mission-critical visa services). As each consular post will have discretion as to when to resume expanded operations, taking into consideration the health and safety of consular employees, the DOS declined to confirm when specific services will be available.
The ban is vulnerable to action by the courts or the incoming administration. On January 19, 2021, the Ninth Circuit will consider a district court’s injunction of Presidential Proclamation 10052 as applied to the litigants in that case. In addition, business groups are already seeking support from the Biden administration to revoke the new Proclamation after the inauguration on January 20. .