In April, President Donald Trump imposed a 60-day ban on permanent resident cards issued abroad. The ban was supposed to expire on June 22. On that day, he signed an executive order that (1) extended this ban through the end of 2020 and (2) now restricts foreign nationals from outside the United States from using certain temporary employment-based visas through the end of the year. This order took effect June 24 and could have a significant impact on your business operations.
So, who does this affect? The order means that there will be no new H-1B visas used by professional and technology workers; H-4 visas awarded to the spouses of H-1B holders; H-2B visas used by seasonal workers in landscaping and hospitality; L-1 visas for executives and managers transferred within companies; or J-1 visas issued to interns, trainees, or people on work-study summer programs. The order does not cancel or affect the status of foreign employees already working in the United States.
Who gets to come in or stay? The following employees are not affected by the order: (1) visa holders already in the United States or with already approved visas; (2) employees deemed to be essential because they are healthcare workers focused on treating and researching COVID-19; and (3) employees deemed essential to providing services in the nation’s food supply chain. The secretary of State, the secretary of Labor, and the secretary of Homeland Security must establish criteria to determine who can come in under the second and third categories. But the order does not appear to give any timeline for when this must occur. Since the order applies only to foreign employees seeking entry into the United States, it does not affect foreign employees who are already here and are applying for extensions of their currently valid visa status or seeking an adjustment or change of status.
There is likely to be litigation over this order, but in the meantime, businesses should make plans in accordance with the order and also ask any affected employees to cancel any type of travel outside of the United States if they do not have a valid visa.