IMMIGRATION SUSPENSION UPDATES
Since Trump’s latest proclamation suspending H-1B visas was put in place the White House has provided additional information and clarifications. Firstly, the suspension of immigrant visas that was made in April has now been extended to last also until December 31, 2020. Important to note that the suspension of nonimmigrant visas DOES NOT apply to Canadians entering the US on H, L or J visas. Canadians will be allowed entry with only an approval notice.
Secondly, clarifications have been made regarding the required issue date that the H, L or J visa must have in your passport. A visa needs to have an issue date of June 24, 2020 or earlier in order for you to be exempt from this new proclamation. It does not matter if the start date of employment is after June 24, all that matters is that the valid visa was issued by June 24, 2020. The proclamation has also been amended to read that individuals must have a valid visa issued on June 24, 2020 or earlier in the category that they are seeking to enter the US (H, L or J), whereas before it just read as having a nonimmigrant visa. Therefore, you cannot enter if you have just any visa issued on June 24 or earlier, but only one of the listed visas. For example, if you have a B visa that was issued on June 24, 2020 or earlier then this does not automatically allow you to enter the United States.
Additional information has also been provided to clarify the medical professional exemption. This proclamation has narrowed the exemption of medical professionals to ONLY medical professionals who are coming to the US to work on COVID-19 care or COVID-19 research. Be aware it is not enough to just state that’s what one will do when coming to the US, individuals now have to provide sufficient evidence proving that is what they will be doing.
Further clarifications have been made as to what it means to supply “services essential to the United States food supply chain” as an H-2B worker. The food supply chain has been defined as transporting or packaging food from its source. This does not include individuals working in food service or the hospitality industry. As a result, this will only affect about 15% of H-2B workers.
Finally, the White House stated that there will be changes made to the H-1b program in the coming months. It looks like the system will be moving more towards a merit-based system, which means that, according to President Trump, only the “best and brightest” of applicants will be accepted. Although no changes have yet occurred, this new system is meant to place highest wage-earning candidates as priority above entry position candidates. Also, they are discussing the removal of the lottery system, replacing it with top ranking salaried employees being chosen first.
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