The Presidential Proclamation 10014 banned H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, and certain categories of J-1s (including au pairs, trainees and interns, teachers, camp counselors and summer work program). The ban applied to entry of foreign nationals who were abroad on the date of June 24, 2020, and who did not already have a valid visa. So, all those employers who already filed H-1B petitions for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2020, are not able to bring their employees to the US unless the employee already had a valid H-1B visa as of June 24, 2020. This ban is in effect until December 31, 2020. See, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/
There are certain exceptions to the recent travel ban on L-1s, H-1Bs, H-2Bs, and J-1s, called National Interest Exceptions (NIEs). For example, there is an exception to the ban on H-1Bs and H-2Bs for IT providers and others with government contracts. As a practical matter, however, because there are so few staff at the US Embassies and Consulates abroad, good luck trying to get a Consular Officer to pay attention to a request for an exception!
Here are the National Interest Exceptions (NIE) to the ban regarding H-1Bs (professionals), H-2Bs (seasonal or temporary workers), L-1As (multinational manager or executive transferees) and L-1B (specialized knowledge workers being transferred from abroad to US parent, subsidiary, affiliate, branch):
1) For H-1Bs and Ls, there is an NIE for public health or healthcare professionals or researchers, whose work relates to Covid-19, or to do research in an area of public health benefit, for example cancer or communicable disease research. There is also an exception for those working on an area not directly related to Covid-19, but is suffering as a result of the secondary effects of Covid-19;
2) For both H-1Bs and H-2Bs, at the request of a US government agency or entity to “meet critical US foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations”. This would include to provide IT or other services to US government agencies or entities. For the H-2B, for example, to work on a construction project, or IT infrastructure, on a US Army base.
Regarding J-1 (exchange visitor) visas, there is no travel ban on J-1 Professors or J-1 Research Scholars. Thus, J-1 Professors and Research Scholars may apply for visas and do not need to qualify for an NIE exception. There is also no travel ban on J-1s for IMGs (International Medical Graduates) coming to the US.
There are several NIE exceptions for the banned categories of J-1s:
1) J-1 au pairs who have specialized skilled to take care of a special needs child. The child does not have to be a U.S. citizen as long as he or she is in legal immigration status. A J-1 au pair NIE exception is also recognized where the care provided by the au pair would prevent a legal individual from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state. Another au pair exemption is to take care of the child of parents providing medical care to Covid-19 patients or doing research on Covid-19;
2) If the J-1 is coming to the US pursuant to an agreement between a foreign government and the U.S.;
3) J-1 interns and trainees on US government-agency sponsored programs, which supports the economic recovery of the US;
4) J-1 specialized teachers teaching primary or secondary students in a foreign language.
For the U.S. State Department’s explanation of the NIE exceptions, see https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/exceptions-to-p-p-10014-10052-suspending-entry-of-immigrants-non-immigrants-presenting-risk-to-us-labor-market-during-economic-recovery.html.
However, there are still certain nonimmigrant visa categories which are not covered by the travel ban and still eligible for visa issuance and to enter the U.S. In addition to J-1 Research Scholars and Professors, E-1 (treaty traders), E-2 (treaty investors), O-1A (extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business and athletics) and O-1B (extraordinary ability in the arts, broadly defined), P-1 and P-3 visas are not banned, and so you do not need to qualify for any NIE exception to apply. TNs for Canadian and Mexican citizens, H-1B1 for Chileans and Singaporeans, and E-3 for Australians are also not banned. F-1 international students are also not banned. However, there are multiple other travel bans which you may have to consider before trying to enter the U.S. depending upon your particular circumstances.
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