The decision to lift restrictions on entry to the United States, made by President Biden, is welcome news for those visa applicants who have been affected by former President Trump’s Proclamation 10014 of April 22, 2020, that suspended the entry of certain immigrants to the United States (Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak). Now, as the Proclamation 10014 was rescinded on February 24, 2021, the future is definitely clearing up for several categories of individuals without approved immigrant visas who have issues with obtaining visas and arriving in the US.
Restrictions are lifted for the following foreign citizens:
- parents of US citizens;
- adult children of US citizens;
- spouses and children (irrespective of their ages) of US legal permanent residents;
- individuals who won Diversity Visa 2020 and 2021;
- individuals applying for work-based immigrant visas.
If you belong to any of these categories, you can start the application process. To ensure a prompt execution of President Biden’s long-awaited Proclamation the Department of State has issued the following instructions for foreign nationals who want to enter the US on new immigrant visas.
Instructions for Immigrant Visa Applicants
Not Yet Interviewed:
If immigrant visa applicants have not yet attended an interview or been invited for an interview, they can expect to have their applications processed in the normal application processing framework.
If immigrant visa applicants were refused a visa due to Proclamation 10014, but their petitions are still valid, they will receive the instructions from the US embassy or consulate where they were interviewed. As the Department of State reviews such cases, applicants will be contacted to be given further instructions.
Diversity Visa 2020 Applicants:
Green card holders issued in 2020 may travel to the United States as soon as possible, provided that their visas are still valid. Foreign nationals whose DV-2020 visas have expired are not subject to replacement visas. However, the court case Gomez v. Trump allows some individuals to enter the US on an expired visa. Therefore, applicants wishing to take advantage of the court order are encouraged to consult an experienced immigration attorney to find out more information about the case if your diversity visa has expired. It is highly recommended seeking professional advice regarding the court order as soon as possible as it doesn’t state how long it will be effective and there are concerns that it can be revoked. There are more exceptions for Diversity Visa 2020 applicants which can be discussed with immigration lawyers.
Diversity Visa 2021 Applicants:
DV applicants for the 2021 fiscal year should wait to be informed when a US embassy or consulate is ready to schedule an interview with them.
Important information for winners of the DV-2020 lottery: If you are a DV-2020 diversity visa holder and your diversity visa does NOT have an expiration date between February 17 and February 28, 2021, the State Department will treat your visa as if it had been issued on February 24, 2021. Your visa will be valid from this date for the same validity period for which it was originally issued.
Waiting Period for Interview and Visa Approval
Although the immigrant visa ban has been rescinded, regular visa services that were suspended due to COVID-19 are not provided on the full scale yet and are being resumed gradually. US embassies and consulates still have to prioritize and process family-based and marriage-based visa applications filed by U.S. citizens. Priority is given to nonimmigrant visa applications filed by foreign nationals with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain critical categories of travelers. Thus, you may face delays in appointments due to backlogs and COVID-19 restrictions in US embassies and consulates.
Nevertheless, as COVID-19 local conditions improve, the volume and type of visa categories processed are expected to be increased. Monitoring a local U.S. embassy or consulate’s website will provide more information about a specific date when visa services are resumed.
Update on Presidential Proclamation 10052
It is worth noting that Presidential Proclamation 10052 was effective only through March 31, 2021 and has not been extended by President Biden. The proclamation put restrictions on issuing the most popular employment-based nonimmigrant visas, such as
- L-1 (visas for intracompany executives, managers, and specialized knowledge workers),
- H-1B and H-2B (specialty occupation professionals visas, temporary non-agricultural worker visas)
- J-1 (visas intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, and summer work travel program beneficiaries).
Despite the fact that the ban was introduced to protect the US labor market, it was highly criticized by Biden’s administration for its harm to the industries in the United States.
For example, recently US Chambers of Commerce have been contacted by companies working with Summer Work Travel programs to discuss the limitations on J-1 visas and the low priority they are given at US consular services. J-1 visa applicants are usually university students in their home countries who want to participate in the summer work program during their summer breaks. They usually take seasonal jobs and help small businesses to meet the business demands through the high season. Now there are a lot of concerns that local businesses won’t have enough workforce to fill the positions and to keep business open through summer.
As the restrictions were hindering the ability to employ new workforce in the United States, President Biden took no action to extend Proclamation 10052 and it became void on March 31, 2021.
Applicants seeking to receive the above-mentioned visas, who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview, can expect to have their applications prioritized and processed in the near future. Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 are allowed to apply again by submitting a new application including a new fee.
Please note that consular functions are resuming on a post-by-post basis, that delays should still be expected, and that backlogs may grow as a greater variety of visa appointments, including those for categories previously restricted, are scheduled.
Additionally, travelers from certain countries may still be subject to COVID-19 related travel bans on certain countries. Travelers subject to this travel ban (including the United Kingdom, the Schengen countries, Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa) may seek a national interest exception, if they qualify. As before, F-1 and M-1 students traveling from Ireland, the Schengen Area, or the United Kingdom will not require national interest exception. If they need and are approved for a visa, they will automatically be considered for a national interest exception to travel.
ACS Law Offices Inc. attorneys will continue to monitor the immigration developments and are ready to consult you on any question you may have regarding the recent news. Do not hesitate to contact us to learn more how we can help you to enter the US legally and determine which type of visa you may be eligible for.