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The Trump Administration Continues Restrictions to Legal Immigration

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The Trump administration took another step to limit legal immigration in the U.S. this week when the President signed the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak, which halts a variety of visas for foreign-born workers and their dependents from June 24 through December 31, 2020.

Which Visas are Affected?

The proclamation suspends the issuance of the following temporary employment visas:
  • H-1B: Individuals in “specialty occupations” 
  • H-2B: Temporary, seasonal labor in non-agricultural industries
  • L-1A:  Managers and executives from companies operating in the U.S. 
  • L-1B: Employees from companies operating inside the U.S. with specialized knowledge 
  • J-1 (certain): Those coming to the U.S. to teach, study, conduct research, demonstrate special skills, or receive on-the-job training
The proclamation also suspends corresponding visa types such as the H-4 (given to the spouse of an H-1B visa holder) and the L-2 (for the spouses of L-1A and L-1B visa holders).  
Unfortunately for many foreign nationals with plans to work in the U.S. on these visas, they’ll likely be unable to enter the U.S. until the end of the year, unless they obtain a waiver or a court intervenes.  

Who is Exempt?

There are some temporary work visas that are exempt from the recent proclamation. The three most notable exceptions are J-1 visas for physicians, foreign nationals essential to the food supply (such as H-2B workers employed in seafood or food processing), and the spouses and children of U.S. citizens. Other exempt visa categories include O-1, E-2, E-3, P, H-1B1, and TN. Another noteworthy absence from the list of impacted visas is the H-2A, which is used to hire foreign, temporary agricultural workers. 
The order also grants the Secretary of State and acting Secretary of Homeland Security the power to admit anyone who is determined to be in the national interest. For example, researchers working on diagnosing, preventing, and treating COVID-19; clinical care workers; and those critical to national security. 
Lastly, the proclamation does not affect existing visa holders, those who have applied for status changes or stay extensions, and those who are visa-exempt. 

Preceding Proclamation

The recent order also extends through the end of the year the Trump administration’s April 22, 2020 Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak, which paused issuing green cards to applicants outside of the U.S. For a more detailed expansion of the previous proclamation, read our blawg The White House Immigration Proclamation: The Invisible Wall.

Tightening Regulations 

The proclamation also orders a review of the country’s nonimmigrant programs such as the H-1B visa—a long-time target of the Trump administration—making it likely that tougher standards and increased restrictions will be proposed.

GoffWilson Immigration Law

GoffWilson is an ally of immigrants and employers—we’re monitoring the proclamation closely to best advise everyone affected by it. We’ll post updated information and guidance as we learn more. For over 30 years, we’ve proudly practiced immigration law and we are here to answer any questions about how you, your employer, or your business is affected by the recent immigration proclamation. Contact GoffWilson today—immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion! 
Filed under:H-1B Visa, Immigration Law, J-1 Visa