United States’ Temporary Suspension of Certain Work Visas (Residency, H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visas)

On June 22, 2020, President Trump’s administration issued a proclamation suspending the entry of foreigners with certain permanent visas and temporary visas, mostly work related. Below we provide a summary of the proclamation, as well as a link to the full document.

Why was this proclamation made?

Citing the current 13.3 percent unemployment rate in the U.S. as a result of Covid-19, the proclamation is issued as a defensive measure to protect the local work force. In April of this year, a previous proclamation had sought to bar the entry of immigrants (residency) primarily under the work-based categories. This proclamation reiterates the reasoning behind that initial action and the continued need to suspend such immigration as “immigrant visas, are granted ‘open-market’ employment authorization documents, allowing them [immigrants] immediate eligibility to compete for almost any job, in any sector of the economy.” 

Going beyond the April proclamation, and seeking to expand the suspension to other work visa categories, the new proclamation states,

17 million United States jobs were lost in industries in which employers are seeking to fill worker positions tied to H-2B nonimmigrant visas.  During this same period, more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions.

Furthermore, according to the proclamation, unemployment disproportionately affects the at-risk segments of the population. 

excess labor supply is particularly harmful to workers at the margin between employment and unemployment — those who are typically “last in” during an economic expansion and “first out” during an economic contraction.  In recent years, these workers have been disproportionately represented by historically disadvantaged groups, including African Americans and other minorities, those without a college degree, and Americans with disabilities.

These, among other reasons, such as: “the United States economy will likely require several months to return to pre-contraction economic output, and additional months to restore stable labor demand,” are cited as reasons for temporarily restricting the additional admission of foreign workers, temporary and permanent, until December 31, 2020.

Who does it apply to? 

The proclamation applies to those who do have not yet have immigrant visas or non-immigrant work visas in the following categories.

Immigrant visas – Are issued to those who apply for permanent residency who are not specifically exempt (e.g. not a spouse of a U.S. citizen, not an investor creating jobs, not in an essential work category, or in the National Interest of the U.S.). This type of visa allows unlimited work authorization in any field of endeavor not otherwise restricted by qualification or by law. 

Non-Immigrant Visa Types

  • H-1B – is a type of visa issued to those who are in specialty occupations. These types of occupations usually require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, or higher, and employ theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge. These include engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts. 
  • H-2B – is a type of visa issued to skilled and unskilled workers.  These types of jobs include welders, construction workers, maids, or general laborers. 
  • J – is a type of visa issued to interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs, or in association with summer work travel programs.
  • L – is a type of visa issued to inter-company transferees — employees who are transferred to the U.S. from a foreign office. They include employees with specialized knowledge or managers and executives. 

What does it say?

The entry into the United States of any alien seeking entry pursuant to any of the visas mentioned above, is suspended and limited until December 31, 2020.

When is it in effect?

June 24, 2020 through December 31, 2020. 

Where?

The proclamation applies to all foreigners still outside the United States, who do not currently have one of the visas listed above and an official travel document (transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole document issued from this date and thereafter) allowing them entry into the U.S.  This suspension does not affect those already in the U.S. and already working in the visa categories listed.

How?

The proclamation temporarily suspends the entry of these visa applicants until after December 31, 2020. The proclamation might be modified or adjusted after 30 days, at the recommendation of the Department of Homeland Security, as it sees fit. For details, please visit the link below, which takes you to the official proclamation. 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/?utm_source=link&utm_medium=header

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