New Options for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders
The June 22, 2020 Trump administration ban suspends entry for foreign nationals on H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visas until December 31, 2020. On August 12 the State Department released a few exceptions.
Many will not find these exceptions helpful, but they offer options to a narrow range of professionals. The entire ban and the exceptions are already coming under legal fire, which means if you think you may be able to take advantage of them, and desire to do so, then you’ll need to contact your immigration lawyer quickly and get the process moving as best as you can.
The exceptions are “national interest exceptions.”
The State Department’s Guidance exempts:
- H-1B or L-1 applicants who wish to travel as a public health or healthcare professional or researcher to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a “substantial public health benefit.”
- Travel supported by a request from a U.S. government agency to meet “critical U.S. foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations.”
- Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States with the same position with the same employer and visa classification.
- Travel by “technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.”
- The wage rate paid to the H-1B applicant “meaningfully exceeds the prevailing wage rate by at least 15 percent,” on the theory that this “suggests the employee fills an important business need where an American worker is not available.”
- The applicant’s “education, training, and/or expertise demonstrate an unusual expertise in the specialty occupation in which the applicant will be employed,” like a doctorate degree.
- Denying the visa will cause financial hardship to a US employer.
- J-1 applicants traveling to provide care for minor U.S. citizens, LPR, or nonimmigrants in lawful status by an au pair possessing special skills required for a child with particular needs.
- Travel by an au pair that prevents a US citizen, LPR, or nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state.
- Childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals with Covid-19 or medical research.
- Interns and trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs.
- Specialized teachers in Accredited Educational Institutions in certain programs.
- Travel as a technical expert or specialist meeting a critical infrastructure need.
If you think you or an employee may fall under the exemptions and have been blocked by the original proclamation up until this point it may be worth taking advantage of them.
Some who meet the requirements are still getting refusals, so you do need a good attorney by your side if you’re going to try to use them.
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Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.
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