By: Tieranny L. CutlerMichelle Gergerian, and Jason Burritt

Seyfarth Synopsis:  Previously scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020, Proclamations 10052 and 10014 have been extended by President Trump until March 31, 2021. These visa bans will continue to restrict the issuance of certain immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, as well as travel to the United States by certain nonimmigrants, including those in H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 status.

The newly issued proclamation also provides the authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Labor to recommend any modifications as may be necessary within 15 days of December 31, 2020, and every 30 days thereafter while this proclamation is in effect.

Extension of Nonimmigrant Visa Ban

On Monday, June 22, 2020, President Trump issued Proclamation 10052 to suspend entry to the U.S. by all foreign nationals (with limited exceptions) who hold H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 status, including any dependent family members. This provision took effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on June 24, 2020.  On December 31, 2020, the President extended the Proclamation until March 31, 2021, thereby continuing to restrict and limit nonimmigrant visa issuance for those seeking H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 status.

Importantly, the proclamation provided several exceptions to allow entry for H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa holders (including their dependent family members): individuals who held a valid visa stamp in their passport, but were outside of the U.S. on the effective date of the proclamation, and individuals who possess an official travel document other than a visa (e.g., a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that was valid on the effective date of the Proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.

The proclamation also provided exceptions to the following individuals: any lawful permanent resident of the U.S., spouses or children (under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen, a foreign national that will provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain, and a foreign national whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.  Factors that will be considered to be in the national interest include individuals who: are critical to the defense, law enforcement, diplomacy, or national security of the United  States, are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized, are involved with the provision of medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19, or are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.

This proclamation remains in effect through March 31, 2021.

Extension of Immigrant Visa Ban

As detailed in Seyfarth’s earlier blog post in April 2020, Proclamation 10014 suspended the entry of all intending immigrants (those seeking to enter the U.S. as green card holders) who were outside the U.S. as of Thursday April 23, 2020 at 11:59 pm, who did not have a valid immigrant visa on the effective date, and who did not have valid travel documents on the effective date or any date after that allows for travel to the U.S. to seek admission.

Lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, currently living outside the U.S. are not subject to the ban, nor are the spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens.  The Proclamation also included an exception for foreign nationals (and their spouses and children under the age of 21) applying for immigrant visas pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Foreign nationals who seek to become permanent residents and work as physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals,  perform medical research or other research to combat the spread of COVID-19, or perform work “essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak” in the U.S. remain exempt, as well as their immediate family members (spouses and children under the age of 21).

While many consulates have reopened since the initial impact of the pandemic in March 2020, they continue to operate with limited hours.  Further, many countries have recently issued new travel restrictions due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, which means that immigrant visa processing for those cases not subject to the Proclamation remains challenging.

This proclamation remains in effect through March 31, 2021.

The Seyfarth team previously provided further clarification of the applicability of the nonimmigrant visa ban through its FAQ.  For further information on National Interest Exceptions, please see Seyfarth’s blog here.

Seyfarth Shaw will issue subsequent alerts as the situation continues to develop.  Should you have any questions, please email the author directly or alert your Seyfarth Shaw contact.