Executive Order Suspends Work Visas Through 2020; Those Lawfully in the US are Exempt

June 23, 2020

By Immigration Group

President Donald Trump signed a proclamation suspending foreign worker visas, effective on June 24, 2020, until December 31, 2020. This order suspends H-1B visas, H-2B visas, certain J visas and L visas, with exceptions that will become evident later. Accompanying dependents of these visa types, such as H-4 or L-2’s, are also barred from getting visas. J-1 physicians are exempted from this order and remain eligible for J-1 visas. Other categories, such as O-1, E-2, E-3, P, H1B1 and TN, are similarly exempt. Visas are only for those needing to enter or re-enter the U.S. from abroad, so this order does not impact those in the U.S. currently in such status or who have applied for changes of status or extensions of stay, and it presumably will not impact those who already have valid multiple-entry visas as of June 24, 2020, or are visa exempt (such as Canadians).

At this time, the order has set exceptions for foreign workers who are essential to the U.S. food supply, certain health care professionals and any spouse or child of a U.S. citizen. Lawful permanent residents are also not impacted. Additionally, the order will grant the Secretary of State and acting Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to admit anyone whose entry is determined to be in the national interest. We will release more information as we learn it. In the meantime, anyone physically present in the U.S. in a lawful status with H, J, or L applications anticipated or pending are protected. We strongly urge clients to reconsider any foreign travel that would necessitate obtaining an H, J or L visa until more is learned about any applicable exceptions.

In addition to the suspension of work visas, the administration has extended its Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020, which suspended the entry of certain immigrants deemed a risk to the U.S. labor market. Please see our previous article for more details on Proclamation 10014.

The Trump administration has additionally stated that, in conjunction with the Department of Labor, it will consider promulgating new regulations to ensure that those seeking H-1B visas or employment-based immigrant benefits (EB-2 or EB-3) will not disadvantage U.S. workers. At this point it is too early to know whether any changes in this regard will be attempted. We will provide further information regarding this Executive Order and any immigration changes as they are released.

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