Exception for H-1, L-1 and J visas to the Proclamation Suspending Entry
September 15th, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our lives, one of the Trump Administration’s Presidential Proclamations that was initially allegedly geared towards assisting in the country’s economic recovery, appears to have taken a curious turn.
The Proclamation that was issued on June 22, 2020, prohibits the entry of certain non-immigrants, including those who are applying for new L-1A and H-1B visas for the first time, based upon approved petitions. On August 12, 2020, the Administration announced specific requirements for a National Interest Exception to this prohibition for certain applicants for H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 visas and their corresponding derivatives. Additionally, individuals who will age out of their immigrant category before the Proclamation’s expiration date or within the following 2 weeks, are also eligible to apply for this National Interest Exception.
While this development appears, on its face, to be a significant change, it is important to note that there are limitations on this apparently reasonable policy. First, there are specific requirements in order to qualify for the exception. For example, L-1A applicants who are coming to the U.S. to open new offices will generally not be eligible to apply for the exception. Second, even if an applicant meets the listed criteria for an exception, the Proclamation only provides that applicants “may” qualify for an exception, without any certainty that they will. Finally, the consular or embassy officer making the decision has sole discretion; as typically occurs with consular and embassy decisions, so there is no way to have a decision reviewed, even if it incorrectly applies the policy. A careful review of this Proclamation reveals that it is not nearly as beneficial as it initially appeared to be, which is a common characteristic the Trump Administration’s policies.
Immigrants are an important component of the U.S. economy, nevertheless, as the economy continues to reel from the Trump Administration’s bungled response to the pandemic, Trump’s Proclamation is likely to be as ineffective as his other actions. We should not forget that respecting the immigrant community and its long-standing contributions to our country is a value worth defending.
The immigration lawyers and legal professionals at FitzGerald Law Company remain committed to helping the immigrant community navigate the immigration system during these difficult times. Contact our office at 617-303-2600 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Boston attorneys and learn more about your legal options and how we can help you with any immigration, criminal defense and/or personal injury legal matters.