Trump Executive Order Suspends Entry of H, L, and J Visa Applicants Outside the United States, Immediate Damage to Economy Limited, Message Primarily Political

June 24, 2020

On June 22nd, 2020, Trump issued an executive order suspending the entrance of temporary nonimmigrant H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa applicants until December 31st, 2020. These visas are for skilled workers, short term/seasonal workers, exchange program visitors, and intracompany transferees such as international executives, respectively.


Note this only applies to nonimmigrant (non-permanent) visa applicants who are abroad; this order does not affect foreign nationals here in the U.S. who want to change status to one of these visa categories within the U.S., or who are abroad and already have valid, approved visas in their passports. It only applies to foreign nationals abroad who have yet to get these visas at the embassies or consulates. Therefore, given that currently the embassies are closed due to the COVID-19 crises anyway, this order has no immediate impact.


This order also does not affect lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders), foreign nationals that already have valid travel documents (such as advance parole) or spouses or children of U.S. citizens. There are also exceptions for visa applicants whose presence in the U.S. is in the national interest, such as defense, diplomacy, law enforcement, and health or medical concerns, such as the COVID-19 crisis. 


Trump also extended his previous order of April 22nd, 2020, suspending immigrant visas, or visas that grant permanent residence (“green cards”), until December 31st, 2020. Again, this order only covered immigrants applying to come to take up permanent residence from abroad; green card applications by foreign nationals already in the U.S. will continue to be accepted. The April 22nd order also exempted spouses or minor children of citizens, immigrant investors, and health care professionals, among others.


In the latest order, Trump also threatens to impose further limits and hurdles to employment-based green cards (EB-2 and EB-3) and H-1B visas in the future, as he has often done, but no specifics are provided. The complete order can be found here.


Because only foreign nationals abroad are affected, and travel is currently shut down, the immediate effect of these orders is limited, although long-term effects could be damaging to our economy, as noted by business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, especially if Trump is reelected and the bans extended. Although Trump claims these orders will allow Americans to get the jobs that foreign nationals would have filled, business organizations disagree, and these measures may be understood as an election year appeal to Trump’s anti-immigrant base.


As always, Trump reserves the right to extend and broaden the bans, and we will continuously monitor their implementation and any new disruptive policy changes and provide timely updates.

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