New Ban on Highly Skilled Workers

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President Trump issued yet another new Executive Order issued this week on immigration. This latest order, which takes effect June 24, 2020 and will be in effect until December 31, 2020, suspends the issuance of four kinds of visas – H-1B, H-2B, certain kinds of J visas, and L visas. The justification set out in the proclamation for this new Order is the extraordinarily high unemployment rate the US is currently experiencing as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

What does this Order mean, and who does it apply to? The first thing to know is that it applies to foreign nationals who are OUTSIDE the country on the effective date of the Order. So it does not affect people who are already in the United States with these types of visas. Also, it does not affect people whose visa has already been issued prior to this Order, but have not yet entered the US. So if you have a valid H-1B visa in your passport issued before the effective date of this Order, you can still be admitted to the US. That also means that someone is in the US already with one of these types of visas, that person can continue to travel in and out of the US with that visa. And, this Order applies to not only the primary visa holder, but also dependent visa holders, such as H-4 or L-2 visa holders.

There are two really important exceptions to this ban, and one really important thing to note for Canadian citizens, who are exempt from visa requirements. The first of the two exceptions is for workers who provide services that are essential to the food supply chain of the United States. And the second is for foreign nationals whose entry into the United States is determined to be in the national interest of the US. National interest is a bit of a nebulous term that means different things in different immigration contexts. For example, maybe it could mean a scientist whose work is critical for developing a coronavirus vaccine. Last Saturday, Homeland Security decided it was in the national interest of the United States to allow a political ally of President Trump’s from the UK enter the US to attend President Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, despite the current coronavirus travel ban. So the term can really mean a wide variety of things, and we will see how it gets defined in relation to this order, but it seems that there may be a new waiver in town.

For Canadian citizens, it appears this Order may not apply to you, which if true, is great news. Canadian citizens are not required to have visas to enter the US. Since the language of this Order focuses on visa holders, it seems that it does not apply to Canadians. But Canadian friends, please consult with an experienced immigration attorney before showing up to the border to apply for admission under this new Order. We don’t yet know how it will be interpreted at the border!

Finally, there are a few “additional measures” buried in to the end of this proclamation that are huge. One is that the Order directs DHS to issue regulations to make sure that current employment based green card holders and H-1B visa holders are not disadvantaging US workers. So we’ll be watching closely to see what these new regulations are.

And the Order directs DHS to prevent the issuance of work authorization to foreign nationals with final orders of removal, who are inadmissible or deportable from the US, or who have been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime in the US. These are really broad categories that will prevent many people currently in the US from being able to work.

So that’s a quick look at this week’s new Executive Order. If you would like to speak with an immigration attorney about your immigration process, submit an inquiry here.

Conveniently headquartered in downtown Buffalo’s historic Cornell Mansion, Kruger Immigration Law concentrates its practice in family immigration, naturalization and citizenship, and business immigration for those looking to relocate to the United States of America. If you’re immigrating from Canada to USA, our team of skilled immigration attorneys can help you achieve your “Dreams Without Borders”.

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