Presidential Proclamation Restricting the Issuance of Certain H, J, and L Visas Expires

On June 22, 2020, the Trump Administration announced Presidential Proclamation 10052 (“PP 10052”), which suspended the issuance of many H, J, and L visas at U.S. Embassies and Consulates. The ban was originally set to expire on December 31, 2020, but the Trump Administration extended the effective date through March 31, 2021. PP 10052 was implemented as a measure to protect workers in the United States amid high unemployment rates caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many foreign nationals were prevented from applying for a visa to enter and work in the United States and/or were required to demonstrate they were entitled to an exception to PP 10052.

Recently, President Biden declined to extend PP 10052, resulting in the restrictions’ expiration on March 31, 2021. Foreign nationals can now schedule nonimmigrant visa appointments and apply for an H, J or L visa.

Despite expiration of PP 10052, nonimmigrants still face many challenges when seeking entry into the United States:

  • COVID-19 related travel bans remain in place for the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Brazil, Iran, and China. In furtherance of the United States’ goal of curbing the spread of COVID-19, foreign nationals who have been physically present in these regions during the prior fourteen (14) days are prohibited from entering the United States. With a few exceptions, travelers from these regions must first obtain a National Interest Exception (“NIE”). The Secretary of State recently updated the guidelines related to NIEs.  Under the new guidelines, NIEs are available for foreign travelers seeking to provide vital support for critical infrastructure in the United States. The Department of State will also continue to grant NIEs for foreign travelers seeking to enter the United States for purposes related to the public health response, national security, or other humanitarian considerations.
  • Consular posts worldwide also continue to be impacted by COVID-19, as many local health-related restrictions remain in place. Applicants should expect delays and significant backlogs when scheduling nonimmigrant and immigrant visa appointments.

The expiration of PP 10052 does not mean foreign national travelers will be able to secure visas to travel to the United States immediately. COVID-19 related travel restrictions will continue to delay visa issuance and limit entry. As vaccinations become more widely utilized, employers can expect the resumption of routine visa services to occur on a post-by-post basis during 2021.

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