On June 22, 2020, the President issued a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” (“Proclamation”). The Proclamation targets and restricts work visas to certain H-1B professional specialty occupation workers, H-2B seasonal non-agricultural workers, J exchange visitors, and executives and managers under the L nonimmigrant visa program. In addition, employers should be aware that this Proclamation also extends the Presidential Proclamation issued on April 22, 2020, as it relates to the 60-day restriction on immigrant visa issuance and applicants entering the United States. The temporary worker suspension and extension of the April Proclamation becomes effective on June 24, 2020, and will remain in effect through December 31, 2020.

What does the Proclamation do?

The Proclamation Order limits and suspends entry into the United States for the following nonimmigration visa categories:

  • H-1B nonimmigrants and any H-4 foreign national accompanying or following to join;
  • H-2B nonimmigrants and any H-4 foreign national accompanying or following to join;
  • J nonimmigrants participating in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and any J-2 foreign national accompanying or following to join; and
  • L nonimmigrants, and any L-2 foreign national accompanying or following to join.

Who does the Proclamation apply to?

The Proclamation applies to individuals seeking entry under the visas described above if, on the effective date of the Proclamation, they are:

  1. Outside of the U.S.;
  2. Not in possession of a valid H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, J-2, L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 nonimmigrant visa; and
  3. Not in possession of a valid and official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil, or advance parole document) or is not in possession of a valid travel document issued after June 24, 2020 that permits travel to the United States in order to seek lawful entry.

The Proclamation has a number of exemptions, including those for workers who provide temporary labor or services essential to the food supply chain, healthcare workers, as well as a broad “national interest” exemption.

Does the Proclamation Impact Employees Currently in the United States on a Valid H-1B, H-2B, J or L Visa?

No. The Proclamation does not impact foreign national employees who are:

  • Currently in the United States on a H-1B, H-2B, J, or L status;
  • Outside of the United States and in possession of a valid H-1B, H-2B, J, or L nonimmigrant visa on the effective date of the Proclamation;
  • Outside the United States and who hold an official travel document, such as an advance parole document.

Are there other Exemptions to the Proclamation?

The following foreign national groups are exempt from the Proclamation’s suspension and travel restrictions:

  • U.S. lawful permanent residents;
  • Spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens;
  • Individuals whose entry is essential to providing temporary labor or services to the United States food supply chain;
  • Individuals whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest;

Foreign workers employed in the United States under other temporary worker visa classifications including, but not limited to, E-2, E-3, TN, O-1, and P-1, are not subject to the Proclamation travel restriction.

On July 16, 2020, the Department of State provided updated guidance on the availability of additional exceptions to the Proclamation as it relates to public health, foreign policy, and security.

Employer Considerations

The Proclamation may impact prospective workers outside the United States that do not currently hold a valid nonimmigrant visa or approved travel document. Employers should consult with experienced immigration law counsel for more information and to consider the applicability of any exemptions that may apply.

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2020 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Lizet Ramirez – Lizet is a Client Compliance Manager for Sequoia One, where she works with our clients to optimize and streamline benefits compliance. In her free time, Lizet enjoys live music, travel, hiking and spa days.