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President Trump Signs Executive Order Restricting H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 Visas

After weeks of rumors, President Trump signed a second Executive Order further restricting immigration of certain visa holders. Citing the high unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has ordered that H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 workers (and their accompanying family members with H-4, L-2 and J-2 status) who are outside of the U.S. not to be admitted in our country.

The order also extends the validity of President Trump’s previous Executive Order limiting certain classes of applicants for immigrant visas. Both Executive Orders are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020.

The order also directs the Departments of State, Labor and Homeland Security to review programs and promulgate policies and regulations that would further restrict individuals seeking H-1B visas as well as those seeking employment-based permanent residence.

There are several exceptions to this executive order, including:

  • H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 workers who are outside of the U.S. but who hold a valid visa or another travel document that would allow international travel.
  • Lawful, permanent residents of the U.S.
  • Spouses and children of U.S. citizens
  • Applicants seeking to enter the U.S. to provide work or services in the U.S. food supply chain
  • J-1 visa holders who are not in the U.S. as an intern, trainee, au pair, camp counselor, teacher or participant in the summer work and travel program.
  • H-1B, H-2B, L-1 or J-1 visa holders whose entry would be in the “nation’s interest.” The order directs the secretaries of State and Homeland Security to establish standards and define categories of people who are eligible for entry in the nation’s interest, including:
    • Those who are critical to defense, law enforcement, diplomacy or national security
    • Those who are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized
    • Those involved in medical research to combat COVID-19
    • Those who are necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.

The president’s most recent Executive Order does not impact H-1B, H-2B, L-1 and J-1 visa holders who are already in the U.S. in lawful status. These workers will be able to remain in the U.S. and obtain extensions of status through filings with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, if the individual is outside the U.S. without a visa, even if their petition has already been approved by USCIS, they will not be able to enter until the order expires, is cancelled, or enjoined by a court.

As more developments emerge, we will continue to update our website.  If you have questions about the order, please contact Brad Hendrick at 303-443-8010 or by e-mail to [email protected].

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