On Monday evening, June 22nd, President Trump signed a Proclamation suspending several categories of foreign work visas as part of an effort to limit entry into the U.S. It is an amendment to Presidential Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020 and both expands and extends the ban on green cards issued outside the U.S. until the end of the year.
What It Means
This Presidential Proclamation has important immigration restrictions that take effect immediately (12:01 am EDT June 24, 2020) and shall expire on December 31, 2020, but “may be continued as necessary”.
Among the details released, the following changes could significantly impact a client’s global mobility program and employee immigration into the U.S.:
- The ban on new visas applies to H-1B and H-2B visas, as well as J-1 visas ”to the extent the alien is an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair or summer work travel program” and L-1 visas for workers being transferred within a company. Note: all suspensions of visas above also include restrictions to “any alien accompanying or following to join such alien.”
- There will be exemptions for food supply chain workers and “any alien whose entry would be in the national interest”.
- Medical workers and researchers assisting with the COVID-19 fight will also continue to be spared from the green-card suspension, though their J-1 visa exemptions are narrower.
- These new restrictions will not apply to visa holders already in the U.S. or those outside the country who have already been issued valid visas.
Existing COVID-19 entry bans remain in effect for foreign nationals who have been physically present within the past 14 days – in the UK, Ireland, the Schengen countries, China, Iran, or Brazil – subject to certain exceptions, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and their family members, as well as C (transit) or D (sea crewmember) non-immigrants, among others.
The Proclamation is expected to be challenged in court this week and the immediate effects will likely be limited as U.S. consulates around the world remain closed for most routine visa processing due to the pandemic. However, a continuation of this suspension - or new changes - could again take place on or before the Proclamation is set to expire at the end of the year.
In addition to Monday’s action, the White House noted it plans to enact several permanent changes to policy including awarding H-1B visas using a merit-based system that awards H-1Bs by highest salary and doing away with the H-1B visa lottery. It also aims to tighten rules around H-1B workers assigned to third-party employers and contractors and re-calculates the wage scale to require companies to pay the visa holders higher salaries.
Who to Contact for More Information
As this continues to unfold with more certainty, NEI will convey the impact on our clients and the industry.
“NEI will stay on top of this important development and help our clients comply with the Proclamation impacting visas, immigration and relocation,“ says Michelle Moore, CPA, MPA, CGMA , NEI’s Chief Global Mobility Officer “We will also help communicate these changes to our clients’ relocating employees and global mobility administrators accordingly,” says Moore.
In the interim, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact NEI for help navigating the current travel restrictions and exemptions or reach out to Mollie Ivancic, NEI’s VP International Services.
A link to the official White House release on this Proclamation can be found HERE.