Today, Feb 24th, 2021, President Biden signed a Proclamation (Executive Order) to revoke the previous Proclamation 10014, which banned entry of immigrant visa holders to US. Proclamation 10014 was originally signed by former President Trump on April 22, 2020 and was extended until March 31, 2021. We will review all the details of the Proclamation signed today by Biden and also status of H1B, L1 and other Travel bans.
Background of Immigrant Visa Travel Ban
After COVID-19 situation worsened, former president Trump on April 22, 2020 signed a Proclamation 10014 (Executive Order) called “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”. As part of that, there was a 60-day immigrant visa issuance and travel ban for immigrant visa holders. Immigrant visa holders are nothing but the new green card holders entering US for the first-time using immigrant visa issued by US consulates abroad. You can read Trump Travel Ban – Immigrant Visas Entry to US – April 2020
This original proclamation 10014 did not had any H1B, L1, J1 or H4 related travel bans clauses in it. It was primarily targeted for Immigrant visa holders, who would compete with everyone in the open job market in US as they would be green card holders after they enter US.
Later on, June 22, 2020, the proclamation 10014 was extended by another Proclamation 10052, which is tied to H1B Travel Ban, to last until December 31st, 2020. Later again, it was extended by Proclamation 10131 until March 31, 2021. Today, Feb 24th, 2021, Biden signed a proclamation that primarily addresses the original Proclamation 10014 that was aimed at Immigrant Visa holders.
Biden Proclamation Lifts Immigrant Visa Travel Ban – Summary
Today, Feb 24, 2021, Biden signed a Proclamation (Executive Order) revoking the previous Proclamation 1004. Below is the screenshot of the key piece of text from the proclamation signed today. Let’s look at each of the highlighted text separately.
- Revocation of Proclamation 10014 : This is related to the original Proclamation 10014 that was signed by former president Trump on April 22, 2020 to ban entry of immigrant visa holders ( new green card holders) to enter US, including issuance of immigrant visas at US consulates abroad. In above screenshot, the highlighted text in yellow confirms that this is cancelled and no longer in effect from today.
- Revocation of Section 1 of Proclamation 10052 : Section 1 of Proclamation 10052 basically extended the Immigrant visa ban until December 31, 2020. Now, this is also revoked/cancelled as per the Biden signed proclamation today. In above screenshot, the highlighted text in Green confirms the same saying that it is not in effect. What is important to note is ONLY section 1 of Proclamation 10052 is revoked, not the entire proclamation. The 10052 proclamation is the actual H1B, L1, J1, H4, other travel Ban. Other sections that are part of 10052 stand valid.
- Revocation of Section 1 of Proclamation 10131 : Section 1 of Proclamation 10131 extends the immigrant visa ban until March 31, 2021. Now, this is also revoked/cancelled as per the Biden signed proclamation today. In above screenshot, the highlighted text in red confirms the same saying that it is not in effect. It is important to note that ONLY section 1 of Proclamation 10131 is revoked, not the entire proclamation. The 10131 proclamation is for continuation of H1B, L1, J1, H4, other travel Ban until March 31, 2021. Other sections that are part of 10131 stand valid.
Who all does Immigrant Visa Travel Ban Cancellation cover?
As per the revoked/cancelled immigrant visa entry ban, the below are now eligible to get immigrant visas at US Consulates abroad and enter US.
- Family members of US Citizens & Permanent residents, who plan to get immigrant visa and enter US
- Selected applicants in Diversity Visa Lottery holders who plan to enter US on immigrant visa.
Next Steps : As per the proclamation, it instructs the US Dept of State and other relevant agencies to revise their previously issued guidance on immigrant visa issuances and other processes. So, we may expect to see some press releases by the US Dept of State, USTravelDocs websites clarifying the same.
H1B, L1, H4, J1, Others Travel Ban Still in Effect
The H1B, L1, J1, H4 and others Travel Ban continues to be in effect until March 31, 2021. Only Section 1 of the proclamation 10131 was revoked. If you need to get H1B, L1, H4 or other Visa stamp and enter US, you need to be exempt from the travel ban. You need to qualify under the exceptions for Travel Ban. Read article H1B Travel Ban Exceptions for complete info.
When you go for interview, you need to carry proof indicating that you are exempt from the travel ban. If you do not qualify under the exceptions and try to attend H1B or other visa interview, you will be issued a 221(g) Form that says you did not qualify for exceptions. Below is sample of the 221g letter that was issued in Jan 2021 saying that your visa was denied based on 212(f) clause. Similar letters were issued in February 2021 as well.
When can we expect the H1B Travel Ban to be lifted ?
Based on the proclamation signed today and the language in it, many attorneys believe that the H1B, H4, L1, J1, others travel ban would either be set to expire by March 31, 2021 or it may end early by another proclamation from Biden. The below highlighted statement in screenshot from the proclamation is the reason for speculation that it may not be extended. We need to wait and see, what will happen.
What do you think of the Immigrant Visa Travel ban ending ? Your thoughts on H1B Travel ban ? Share your thoughts in comments.