As most of you know, on June 22, 2020, Trump issued a Proclamation banning entry of H1B, L1 and other visa holders who present risk to US labor market. The Travel Ban for H1B, L1 and other visa holders is extened until March 31st, 2020.
There were some amendments done and clarifications provided after initial order to allow certain dependents. There were few lawsuits filed on this entry ban, including support by Google, Apple, Facebook on the impact to US economy with this ban. All of these seem to have triggered this update.
US Department of State, updated their National Interest Exceptions guidance on the H1B, L1 and other visas entry ban on Aug 12, 2020. It added many new exceptions and gave new criteria that allows many H1B, L1 and other visa holders to apply for US visa stamping. We will cover all those details in this article. In interest of our audience, we focus only on H1B, L1, H4 & L2 visas exceptions.
Background: If you are looking for background, current status on the Trump Executive Order/ Proclamation on the US entry ban for H1B and other visa holders, you should read : COMPLETE Details on Trump Travel Ban – H1B, L1
Previous Visa Stamping, Travel Exceptions are still Valid : Firstly, the previous exceptions of executive order continue to be valid. In short the previous guidance is : if you were in US on June 24 or had valid H1B or L1 visa on the same date; or you fall under national interest, like you were doing anything related to COVID-19 pandemic or critical medical research; or US Govt or defense related critical work, then the executive order or proclamation does not apply to you and you can get US visa stamping, enter US.
Below are the various new exceptions and criteria that are listed by US Department of State. We will group them by visa type for easy review.
H1B, L1 Travel Ban Exceptions – Extensions, Criteria List
Below are the new additions and clarifications for H1B visa holders from today’s update
H1B Travel Ban does not apply to Extensions
If you were working in US on H1B extension with same employer and same job role and stuck out of US due to travel restrictions, now you can get US Visa stamping. They classify this as “resuming ongoing employment”. US Consular officers will look at form I-129 Part II, question 2 to verify if it was an extension. See below screenshot on the exact field.
H1B Holders new criteria to get US visa stamping, US entry
If you are a classified as technical specialist, senior level manager or any other H1B worker, whose travel is necessary to help US economy recovery then US consular officer would determine based on below criteria. You NEED to meet at least TWO of the FIVE listed criteria below.
Criteria 1 : Continued Need for H1B holders, Remote Working:
They want to ensure, that there is continued need for your work or position in US during COVID-19 pandemic. For that they will check H1B LCA approval date. If your H1B Labor Condition Application(LCA) was approved by DOL during or after July 2020, then indicates the continued need for business during COVID-19.
If the H1B LCA was approved before July 2020, then Consular officer would review on case by case basis to understand need and make decision. If you can perform the work remotely from outside US, then you do not qualify for this indicator or criteria point.
You can also watch the below YouTube video, it covers all details in article
Criteria 2 – Critical Infrastructure Sectors, Need :
The H1B holders job duties fall under critical infrastructure sectors and meet critical infrastructure need. The critical infrastructure need is established, if the applicant holds either of the below two positions
- Senior level resource in the company and the job duties are unique and needed for management and success of overall company; OR
- The H1B applicant’s job duties are really specialized and provide significant and unique contributions to the company
Critical Infrastructure Sectors are chemical, communications, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, transportation, and water systems.
If we look closely, this criteria is subjective and US Consular officer has discretion to make a judgment. The company need to give justification on H1B holder’s importance to the job.
Criteria 3 – Wage Level is at least 15% more than Prevailing wage
If the wage or base salary given to H1B holder is above the prevailing wage level by at least 15% as listed on LCA, then they H1B holder will meet this criteria.
- You need to check Part F, Questions 10 and 11 on H1B LCA. Check this Sample H1B LCA at Microsoft that clearly exceeds prevailing wage by 15%. See below screenshot.
- You can Search, View LCA by case number on H1B Grader LCA Search or even Browse LCAs by company to know your LCA related wages.
Criteria 4 – Unusual Education, Training or Experience
If the H1B holder has unusual experience or education in speciality occupation, then they would meet this criteria. Some of the examples that can indicate your unusual experience or education is to have a doctorate or professional degree, or you have many years of relevant work experience and your work is really critical work to the H1B sponsor.
Criteria 5 – Financial hardship for US employer
If the H1B holder cannot arrive in US and work, there will be financial hardship for US employer. In such cases, those H1B holders would meet this criteria. US Consular officer would review, if the company has any financial or contract obligations that they need to meet for this ;or if the employer cannot do business; or they cannot go back to pre-COVID level of operations without H1B employee. Below are just some general examples. It is the consular officer who would assess these and make a decision.
- For instance, let’s say you are working in a client contract that needs you to work from US soil and if you cannot go back and work in US, the employer would lose their contract and have financial hardship.
- Another example is, if you are in health care or Govt contracts and they want the H1B worker to be in US for managing their infrastructure or do work with them. No remote work possible and the employer would lose the contract or cannot do any business.
L1A Visa Travel Ban – Exceptions for Stamping
Below are the new additions and clarifications for L1A visa holders from today’s update
- Resume on-going employment as L1A: If you plan to go back to US to resume work at the same employer in the same position and on same L1A visa, then you can get US visa stamping and travel to US.
- Critical Business Need in Critical Infrastructure Sectors: Similar to above H1B criteria 2, the L1A holder should do critical business need work and be part of the critical infrastructure sectors. The L1A holder NEED to meet TWO of below THREE criteria and does not plan to establish a new office in US.
- In a senior level executive or manager position
- Has spent multiple years in the company at their overseas office. The person has substantial knowledge and experience with the company. The company will face financial loss to train a similar worker in the company, instead of the experienced L1A holder.
- Will meet critical business need for company that is part of critical infrastructure sectors.
Also, if the L1A holder is planning to establish new office in US and meets two of three above criteria, then the new office should also employ directly or indirectly five or mor US workers to meet the criteria for getting US visa stamping and entry.
Travel Ban – L1B Visa Holders Exceptions
Below are the new additions and clarifications for L1B visa holders from today’s update
- Resume on-going employment as L1B: Similar to above, if the L1B holder plans to resume work at the same employer in the same position and on same L1B visa, then they can get US visa stamping and travel to US.
- Technical Expert – Critical Infrastructure Need: The Technical expert on L1B visa would assist critical infrastructure need and has to meet ALL of the below THREE conditions to satisfy this criteria to get Visa stamping and travel to US.
- L1B holder’s job duties and specialized knowledge will provide significant and unique contributions to the company.
- The L1B holders specialized knowledge is related to critical infrastructure need ( see above H1B Criteria 2) and
- The L1B holder has worked for multiple years at the company outside of US that indicates substantial experience and knowledge. Also, the company would face financial hardship, if they want to train a similar worker in the company instead of the experienced L1B holder.
H4, L2 Visa Holders – Travel Ban Exceptions
As long as the primary H1B or L1 visa holder qualifies for any of the above exceptions and can get Visa stamping, then their dependents on H4 Visa or L2 Visa can get stamping and enter US as well. All the previous exceptions for H4, L2 visa holders continue to be in place.
Process to get US Visa for H1B, L1, H4 or L2 Visa holders
Firstly, most US consulates are not open for regular operations. Many are open only for Emergency Appointments. You can check US Consulates Open Status, India Consulates Updates . Now, if you qualify for any of the above listed National Interest Exceptions as H1B, L1 or their dependents, then you need to follow the below process to get US Visa Stamping/ foil in passport.
- You need to follow the guidance given by the US Consulate in your current country and request for emergency appointment.
- You will need to provide specific details in the emergency appointment request on why you qualify for the emergency appointment. Ideally, you should provide documentary proof or evidence that indicates why you meet the National Interest Exception and qualify for emegecny appointment.
- The final determination on your eligibility for National Interest Exception would be made by the consular officer. So, until your visa stamping is done, there is no guarantee that you will get US visa stamping.
You can read two of our recent User Experiences on getting Emergency Appointments in India for US Visa stamping based on Medical reasons. You can also join Telegram Community Group for US Travel Ban, if you want to interact with community.
What do you think of the update from US State Dept ? Does it help many stuck waiting ? Add your thoughts in comments
If your company is exempt from PP10052 due to the federal case, is it enough to get an NIE?
I travelled to USA originally on L1B. I have changed my status to H1B by filing cap exempt petition. ( I had my H1 Petition approved in February 2020. However, I didn’t change my status till December 2020). Based on this petition, I am granted stay in H1B till May 2022. I am planning to travel to India in June and get visa stamped. If I am understand Trump’s executive order correctly then I should be able to schedule my visa interview. Could you please let me know if I am eligible for it ?
I was working in the U.S on H1b and returned to India on September 2019. My visa stamped is expired on Feb 2021. Now I got a new offer and employer is willing to transfer H1b in premium processing. Is my case exempt or not ? do I have to wait to book appointments In April onward ? Please suggest any possible action so that I can get new stamp and go to the U.S.
Currently, I am in USA on H1b and changed my employer in June 2020. My visa stamping is expired in 2018, so I need to go for stamping.
I have to go to India due to my mother’s sickness. Could you please suggest :
1. Can I go to India and apply for an emergency appointment due to my mother’s critical
2. Can I come back USA before 31st March (Travel Ban)
I will appreciate your response.
My H1B visa stamping was expired in April 2020 and I have an extension approved until April 2022. I was in the United States until Jan 2021 and returned to India due to some personal work. I have made my visa slot for stamping and Am I eligible to get stamping since I am continuing my same employment with my employer?
I would really appreciate some help on this, im in a desperate situation.
I was on OPT and had my H1-B approved with a change of status on November 6th and I had been in the US when the proclamation was made. I had to travel to my home country in December for a funeral and I was going to wait till after December 31st to apply for my visa stamp, now with this new extension, I’m wondering if there’s a way I can be exempt from this. I’ve still been working remotely but it’s getting harder because of time difference and other factors of my type of work.
I work in the transportation field, my LCA was certified before July and my wage is 15% above the prevailing wage so I don’t know that I qualify for the exemptions clearly stated but im wondering if my case is different because I had a change of status while in the united states and I haven’t stopped working
I returned from USA in April 2019 and got h1b stamping of same company. I could not go back due to family emergency and resigned company from India. I got I797 approved for new employer in Oct 2020 and started working from India.
Can I travel in my previous visa stamping to USA which is still valid. Looking your guidance in terms of Presidential Proclamation.
Yes, you can as long as the visa is valid and you have all the documentation supporting the same.
I am in US from March 2020 & valid H1b Stamp till Aug 2021 (I dont need any new visa stamp till Sep 2021). I am planning to travel to India on Feb for 10 Days. Am i eligible to travel to India & return to US.
I am hearing stories of need of exempt letter on Port of Entry. Can you please help me with this confusion. Much appreciated!! thanks
My application for H1 (J1 visa waiver for physician) is currently with USCIS after approval by DOS. I need to go to India in July for my wedding but I am unable to book a visa appointment since I do not have the H1B receipt number. Is there a way to get an emergency appointment after my H1 approval by USCIS, so that I can get my visa appointment in July? I need to come back to US by the end of July, so that I can start my job on H1 here in August.
This would change with Biden in office. You need to have H1B approved to even start the process. Do not just start anything with just the receipt number.
I am traveling india for a 3 weeks due to family emergency. I am elizible for drop box. Will be there any issue for me travel back during Travel ban.I am working for the same company in ISA from past 5 years. My Extention approved in Dec 2019 and later my Amendmnet approved (keeeping my home address as work location -LCA) Can you pls help me with any risks of my drop box or travel back ?
In general, there should not be any issues. But, as you know, there is never guarantee for anything. Stay positive and have all documentation, that’s all we can do.
Hi Kumar, I am on H1B (COS from L1) since 2019 and have not travelled to India yet. My wife travelled to India in Feb 2020 and is stuck there. We got an appointment for March 2021 which later was cancelled by consulate.
My question is, since Trump proclamation nis extended until Mar 31,2021, if I by any chance get normal or expedited appointment for my wife for H4( first time stamping ) is she exempted from the rule as I am in US since 2019
Hi, My stamped visa expired on July 2019. I changed employer on May 2019 and in April 2020. I was in US on June 2020. I have to travel to India due to personal reasons. Let me know whether I’m exempted from the travel ban?
I am on H1B visa until Mar2023 ( stamp on passport expired May 2017) . My wife is on H4-EAD and went to India with my daughter (US citizen) for family reason on Dec 7th,2020. We booked her VAC and Consular appointment (Feb 1st, Feb 2nd respectively) in Delhi ( no appointment cancellation yet). Quick questions:
1) For her visa interview, does she needs my I-129 form?
2) Can she get 212(f) , blue slip ( I heard that some folks are getting this since they are not eligible for expedite interview) , My wife appointment is regular and not emergency. she is not eligible for drop box
3) I have some family emergency and wanted to travel once my wife comes back ( or, while she in India in case if she get stuck), I can see that Delhi have some appointment dates available in Feb but not after that, What is your recommendation, should I travel in these circumstances since I am not eligible for drop box. I can get a letter from my employer stating that the Research ( I am in Medical Research) can get affected if I do not come back by such date or so. Will that help?
Please suggest. Thanks in advance.
I got my H1B approved by employer A on Jun 2020.
I then got my H1 B transferred to employer B on Oct 2020 (valid till Oct 2023).
I have not gotten my stamping yet. This is my first stamping and I will be going to Singapore to get it done as I am permanent resident there.
Even though the proclamation has been extended to March 31st, I still see dates in January to book an appointment for interview. Does this mean I can actually go get my stamping done even though the proclamation is in place?
My H1B application was filed & approved under COS on Jul, 2020 and. Right now I am in US and have got an H1B Visa appt at US Embassy in Mumbai. Do you believe I fall under presidential proclamation?
Did you get an answer to your question?
I’m planning to visit India due to family reasons, I have valid US visa , but my spouse’s visa has expired. With the travel ban
1) Can I re-enter the US on H1 with same employer since last extension
2) Can my spouse apply for H4 with dropbox as visa expired dec/2020
3) Can we both travel to India together and return without issues?
Yes, as long as your visa is fine, you are fine.
Yes, she can.
Yes, in general should be fine. Carry all documentation.
Thanks for the reply. Do I have to be in US when my spouse applies for H4?
My husband is currently working in US on H1B. We recently got married in October. He traveled back to US in December. I have applied for my H4 Visa and got the appointment for OFC in Hyderabad on Feb 3rd and Visa Interview in Chennai on March 2nd. But now my OFC in Hyderabad is canceled. Is there any chance to get an emergency/ expedited appointment? If so how should i apply for the same. Please help and reply asap.
You should be exempt from proclamation, apply for EA. Keep looking, you may get OFC.
You can riase it in the system itself. Check How to apply for EA in India
Thanks much for your quick response. If i have to apply for an EA i should have my regular appointment booked? Even though i got an email for my OFC canceled in Hyderabad, i see in CGIFederalsource page still my appointments are displayed. So with that can i go ahead and click on Emergency request and book an appointment with the reason as
Newly Married, Family Separation by selecting ‘Medical Needs‘ as reason for the below
spouse is in US and getting visa to join them.
Yes, you need regular appointment.
You may try that, but be aware that there are a lot of delays with EA as well.
Attended H1b stamping this week from SG , as my appointment was not cancelled , I booked it in Dec assuming travel ban ends of Dec 312020 , but since consulate never cancel my appointment, I go ahead to attend
Interview went well , but ended up with yellow slip asking for NIE from employer + LCA
I will hold until April , hopefully ban will be lifted , then I can go to consulate with LCA but not NIE ,
Do I still have chances of approval ?
Thanks in advance
You should, if that was the reason for the yellow slip. Did it say 221(f) and proclamation text ? post a copy at forum.redbus2us.com, so that we can see.
it was 221(g) , VO tick the “other ” column in the slip and wrote down LCA and N.IE from employer and ask me to bring them later, but i did not ask them whether my visa is approved or rejected or approved and pending due to administrative processing, because my visa status is displaying as “refused”.
I am currently on OPT STEM Extension about to expire by May 2021 and I got the approval for h1b consular processing in Nov’2019 but H1b is not stamped yet.
can I apply for emergency appointment since I’ll be resuming the same job? Also, company works in supply chain and e-commerce domain, does that qualify under national interest?
Well, this is not clear as you are not on H1B…If you qualify for other exceptions, then you can try.
Can you please help me with below query:
I got my h1 approved with company A in Oct 2019. I transferred to company B on June 2020 and got my h1b change of employer approval on June-17-2020 until May 2023. I have plans to travel to India by the end of this month or next month, depending upon the consular appointments availability for visa stamping. If I plan to return back before 3/31/2021, does it causes any issues at the port of entry due to extension of presidential proclamation?
As long as you have valid visa and proper documentation you should be fine.
I was on F1 before and never got my h1 visa stamping done. So just wanted to confirm. Thanks Kumar!
My H1b visa stamp expired in Sept 2019 which was with Employer A.
Employer A applied for extension and it is approved till Sept 2022, I changed jobs later and got my H1B transferred to Employer B which also valid till Sept 2022.
Planning to go to India in Feb.
I was in the US in June 2020, will I be impacted by the Proclamation if I go for stamping?
Please let me know.
You may not be, if you were in US. But, the cahallenge is getting appointment…
Thanks for the follow up.
You mean Proclamation doesn’t apply to me?
I am currently in US on OPT and have got h1b approved. I was in US on June 24th – the date of proclamation. Due to travel abroad my COS was denied and H1b got approved for Consular processing. Am I exempt from H1B ban for visa issuance and travel because I was in US on June 24th 2020 or Do I need any other documents too to qualify H1B ban exemption. Also , I have just booked appointment for New Delhi consulate , do I need to request emergency appointment or this appointment confirmation is enough to visit Consulate interview?
Thanks in advance!!
Well, this is grey area and very likely you are not exempt. The reason, you need to be in the same visa status. You were on F1, now you are seeking H1B, so it may not work. You can try to write to consulate to get confirmation on this.
First of all, I transferred to the company in April 2019. so previous visa stamped under the previous employer’s name.
My H1B visa was expired on 2020/9 and I was not in the US last year June at that time. (was visited Korea for a month…)
My visa interview(not an emergency appointment. I scheduled it on 2020 November) is scheduled this week, so I am in Korea again now to renewing my H1B visa stamp but just saw the travel ban extended article. Can I get a visa stamp this week?
If the appointment booking system, after you go through the wizard shows you are eligible for dropbox, you can go for stamping.
My H1B visa was stamped in passport in February 2020 but never travel in USA
Currently I can travel ob this visa? I am affected by this ban?
Thanks in advance
If you have visa and job tied to the same, you can travel.
Hi, I have my lca approved and H1B visa stamped before july24 and travelling before Dec 31. Will the travel ban apply to my case also. Please respond.
If you have valid visa, you are fine. Make sure you carry all documentation. Check with your employer and plan ahead, before you fly to make sure all are in place. Check with your company attorney too.
Just wanted to check because i’m new immigrant on H1b visa travelling before 31st Dec.
My Family on H4 visa is in INDIA and to return to USA stamping is required. Due to current situation heard only on emergency case H4 will be allowed is it true?
Is some one in same same situation please share if some one is .
Hi, I am on L1B Visa. Currently in USA. I plan to go to India for 3 weeks and back to USA in February. I was wondering if the travel restriction might affect my travel also? I have a valid VISA till end on 2022. Will there be any problems while coming back to US?
Yes only EA is allowed. Many are in same situation. You can check the process at How to apply for EA in India – Guide
I have a situation, I am on L1b and valid till 12/2021 with compay ABC . I got my H1B lottery selected in second round with consultancy X and they have applied for COS now. It’s in progress . Company ABC is ready to sponsor Green card now and H1B CAP petition on next year. I am still USA.
What is the right solution to stay back on my L1b ?
Well, the easy fix is to exit the country and then re-enter on L1…in that way it will abandon the change of status part of the same. Check with your attorney before you travel.
Thanks for your response
Currently I am in US and have L1 visa valid till Dec 2021. My H1B is also approved (with consular notify).
Can I go to India with current L1 visa and come back with it without H1B stamping, as embassy is not taking regular stamping appointment as of now?
You can come back on L1 visa, there should be any issue.
I believe you meant “should NOT be any issue” ?
Rahul, Yes, that’s what I mean. sorry for confusion.
Hi. I am in L1A and my visa stamp expired so I haven’t been able to travel home, my blanket is still valid and I am in the same company and all is the same so I am good to work but cannot travel international. What can I do yo get a new stamp? I really want to see my family. The embassy is only open for tourist visas. Thank you.
This is unfortunate situation for many stuck. There is not much we can do, other than waiting for the consulates to open for regular visa operations.
Hi, I was on H4 EAD for last 4 years and I got H1b this year. I want to travel to India to see my parents in June-July. Will the regular H1B visa appointment available by then? Should I book it now?
Thanks for your help
Hopefully we should have it. No one can predict the future, it will all depend on the COVID and consulates operation. If it is open, why not.
Can you please give more information regarding your visa type and also which location you had chosen for the Dropbox?
I am planning to travel to India and I can plan to stay upto April 2021. If the regular visa is not opened by the time, Am I eligible to request for Vis stamping based on the below criteria. As I am in the same company from last 2 extensions.
“Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification. Forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause financial hardship. Consular officers can refer to Part II, Question 2 of the approved Form I-129 to determine if the applicant is continuing in “previously approved employment without change with the same employer.”
Yes, should be fine. Hopefully the Executive order will be taken out by the new administration and we do not have to deal with them anymore.
Can someone get visa stamping before December 31st 2020 with below conditions:
1. Who was not in US on June 24.
2. Who is continuing with same employer and who got new petition approved with consulate approval for continuation of same job with same employer,
3. LCA was approved after July 2020.
or do we still need atleast two criterias from your list of 1-5 list?
I understood if I am same employer then i don;t need to fulfill any other criteria of 1-5 you gave.. Correct or not?
Thanks in advance..
Usual process. Answered the interview waiver questions and it told me I am eligible for dropbox. It gave me few dates though the slots were limited. This was back in the third week of September.
Can you please give more information regarding your visa type and also which location you had chosen for the Dropbox?
I submitted my passport through Dropbox process in the last week of September 2020 and 6 weeks later still waiting for the visa application to be processed. I qualify for exemptions to pp10052/ October 1 NAM vs DHS case as my employer is a member of US Chamber of Commerce. Sent the documents to the support-india at ustraveldocs and nivnd at state dot gov emails. VFS told me they have also forwarded my documents to the consulate.
Anyone else who is in the same situation or submitted their passport through the Dropbox process and is waiting / has received their passport with visa?
Did you hear back anything from the consulate?
How did you schedule dropbox ? I am eligible for dropbox but when I am trying to schedule interview it says no interview slots available.
Please keep us posted