After months of speculation, the nonimmigrant visa ban has officially been signed. Here are the highlights:
- The ban impacts H1B, H2B, L1A, L1B, and several types of J1 visas. Dependent spouses and children of people in these categories are also impacted.
- Other Nonimmigrant categories such as TN, O1, E3, E2, E1, etc., are not impacted at all.
The ban includes many exemptions. You are NOT impacted by the ban if you:
- Are in the US as of June 22, 2020. If you are currently in the US, you are not impacted by the ban no matter what type of status you are in. A current H1B holder who is in the US on June 22, 2020 and wants to file an application to extend her H1B with her current employer or change to a new employer, for instance, will be able to do this.
- Already have a valid visa for an impacted category stamped into your passport. If you are outside of the US on June 22, 2020, for instance, but you already have a valid L1A visa in your passport, you will still be able to use this visa to travel to the US and start work.
- Are doing work considered to be essential to the US food supply chain or in the national interest.
It appears that USCIS will continue to process petitions filed within the US. People who do not already have a visa stamp and are awaiting H, L, or J approvals from outside of the US, however, will not be able to obtain a visa stamp allowing travel to the US for the remainder of 2020. Because US consulates have indefinitely suspended routine visa services worldwide due to COVID-19, this does not immediately change the current status quo.
One of the most noteworthy clauses comes near the end of the proclamation, where the President orders the Department of Homeland Security to
“consider promulgating regulations…regarding the efficient allocation of visas…and ensuring that the presence in the United States of H-1B nonimmigrants does not disadvantage United States workers.”
We will continue to report on any additional updates to the H1B program that are introduced as a result of this clause.