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Travel Bans Extended Through March 31, 2021

January 11, 2021

On December 31, 2020, the outgoing President signed a Proclamation extending the suspension of entry into the United States to certain nonimmigrant visa holders to March 31, 2021. The visa categories affected continue to include H-1B, H-2B, J-1, L-1 and their dependents. The Proclamation only affects individuals seeking to enter the United States in one of these visa categories on or after June 24, 2020.

The Proclamation also extended the suspension of immigrant visa issuance for applicants utilizing consular posts abroad for purposes of permanent immigration to the United States, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and health-related reasons, as well as the continued high unemployment rate.

The Proclamation does not apply to the following individuals:

  • any U.S. Citizen or any U.S. lawful permanent resident (i.e., a “Green Card” holder);
  • any foreign national who is the spouse or unmarried child (under the age of 21) of a U.S. citizen;
  • any foreign national entering the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the U.S. food supply chain;
  • any foreign national whose entry would be in the “national interest” as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security or their respective designees; or
  • foreign nationals currently in the United States – foreign nationals with valid nonimmigrant visa status presently in the country are still eligible to file for adjustment of status to permanent residence.

Other Travel Bans Still in Effect

The Schengen travel ban, as well as the travel bans barring those entering from Brazil, Iran and China, remain in effect with no end date.

National Interest Exceptions

National interest exceptions will apply to a very limited group of nonimmigrant visa holders. Requests for national interest waivers may be submitted to U.S. consular posts in conjunction with visa requests, or by individuals who might need to travel to the United States as bona fide business visitors who might merit the national interest exception. Generally, individuals requesting visits to the United States on ESTA or with B-1 Business visitor visas would submit compelling documentation evidencing their need to visit the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection or a U.S. consular post outside the United States would adjudicate such requests.

Potential Changes Under the Incoming Administration

The new Proclamation could be superseded and extended under the Biden administration. Alternatively, the incoming administration might let the current travel bans expire without renewal.

We shall have to wait and see what is in store for the travel bans once President-elect Biden assumes office. We will keep our readers updated as developments occur as this is a critical area of concern to the business community.

Attorney Advertising. The information contained in this Legal Alert provides a general summary of the topics covered and is not intended to be and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should consult with your legal counsel for advice and before making legal, business or other decisions.

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