March 31, 2021 marked the sunset on a presidential proclamation that suspended four visa categories of substantial importance to US employers: H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 visas.  In effect since June 24, 2020 and initially scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10052 was extended by former president Trump through March 31, 2021 and left to expire by President Biden.  President Biden’s approach to let the nonimmigrant visa ban run its course is different than his action to rescind Presidential Proclamation 10014, which suspended the issuance of new immigrant visas to applicants outside the United States.Presidential Proclamation 10052, which expired March 31, 2021, affected the following visa classifications and their dependents:

  • H-1B specialty occupation professionals;
  • L-1 intracompany executives, managers, and specialized knowledge workers;
  • H-2B temporary non-agricultural workers; and
  • J-1 intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel program beneficiaries.

The US State Department (DOS) has confirmed the expiration of the ban, explaining that visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will begin to be processed as part of the phased resumption of visa services.  DOS also indicates that those who were previously refused visas under the now-expired proclamation may submit a new application and fee to reapply.  Applicants should still note that consular functions are resuming on a post-by-post basis, that delays should still be expected, and that backlogs may grow as a greater variety of visa appointments, including those for categories previously restricted, are scheduled.

Even with the sunset of Presidential Proclamation 10052, however, travelers from certain countries may still be subject to a ban from travel to the United States. Notably, COVID-19 related travel bans on certain countries, including the United Kingdom, the Schengen Are, Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa, remain in place “until terminated by the President.”  Travelers subject to this travel ban may seek a national interest exception, if they qualify.