Currently there are three main Covid-19 related Presidential Proclamations that affect travels coming into the U.S. We are only discussing in-bound bans because, unlike many countries, the U.S. has not issued travel restrictions which would require authorization for those from the U.S. to depart. We are also not including entry bans that are unrelated to Covid-19. For instance, on May 29th, 2020, the White House issued a Proclamation banning certain students and researchers from China, citing intellectual property theft. The Joe Biden administration has not revoked these travel suspensions and they remain in effect as of January 26th, 2021. Below are the three main Covid-19 related travel suspension Proclamations:
The January 31st, 2020, February 29, 2020, and March 13th, 2020 Presidential Proclamations suspend the entry of travelers from high-risk Covid transmitting countries of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland. These Proclamations exclude European territories outside of Europe. For instance, Aruba and Reunion are excluded even though they are territories of the Netherlands and France, respectively. On May 24th, the White House expanded these proclamations to include Brazil. At the time of this amendment, Brazil had the world’s third highest transmission rate. On January 26th, 2021, the White House added South Africa to the list of suspended countries. Exempt from the suspension are U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, and non-citizens with family ties or who are from a list provided in the Proclamation.
The April 22nd, 2020 Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry of work-related immigrants who can compete for American jobs during the Covid-19 recovery period. Essentially, it prevents those getting work-based green cards from getting visas to enter during Covid-19. There is an exception for those seeking green cards under the family reunion program, the investment program, as well as those who are deemed in the National Interest of the U.S. Those who qualify for this immigrant visa, but cannot do so during the period of suspension, may still do so after the period of suspension. The duration of the suspension is until March 31st, 2021.
The June 22nd, 2020 Presidential Proclamation suspends the entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants who may compete for American jobs during the period recovery. It essentially banned new work-related visas, permanent and temporary, from being issued during the period of suspension. There are exceptions for certain classes of workers who are necessary for the functioning of the U.S. health care system or food supply chain, as well as those in the National Interest of the U.S. The duration of the suspension is until March 31st, 2021.
Who exactly is currently banned from entry?
-Anyone who has spent any part of the previous 14 days in Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the UK, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
-Anyone who is applying to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident (green card holder), who are not specifically exempt (i.e. 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.
-Anyone who is applying to enter the U.S. as an H-1B worker. The H-1B visa is a type of visa issued to those who are in specialty occupations. These types of occupation usually require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, or higher, and employs theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge. These include engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts.
-Anyone who is applying to enter the U.S. as an H-2B worker. The H-2B visa is a type of visa issued to skilled and unskilled workers. These types of jobs include welders, construction workers, maids, or general labor. However, the U.S. has issued exemptions to seasonal workers in agriculture to support the U.S. good supply chain.
-Anyone who is applying to enter the U.S. as an intercompany transferee (L visa holders). The L visa is a type of visa issued to intercompany transferees, employees who are transferred to the U.S. from a foreign office. They include employees with specialized knowledge or managers and executives.
These visa-related proclamations relate to anyone, anywhere in the world who fits the criteria for temporary suspension. Access to the full extension of the visa-related proclamations may be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-continue-present-risk-united-states-labor-market/.