Trump Extends H-1B and Other Immigration-Related Travel Bans

By Brianne Donovan, Sumner Immigration Law Clerk

In April 2020 and June 2020, Trump issued two different proclamations that banned certain foreign nationals from entering the US. The Proclamations were enacted purportedly to protect the U.S. labor market for U.S. employees due to the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Proclamation 10014 affects certain immigrant visa applicants (meaning foreign nationals entering the US on an immigrant visa to reside in the US as permanent residents). Proclamation 10052 affects certain applicants for the H-1B, H-2B, L-1 visas and J-1 visa classifications.

The original proclamations were set for 60 days. However, the president has extended the proclamations twice, with the most recent proclamation extensions being issued a few days ago. The proclamations are now effective until at least March 31, 2021.

While it may not be surprising that Trump would choose to extend these proclamations, the data underlying the reasoning for the proclamations does not necessarily support the extensions. Many specialty occupation fields (an H-1B position must be a specialty occupation such as computer science have shown remarkably low unemployment rates throughout the pandemic. In fact, the national average of U.S. unemployment was 6.7% in the most recent available data for the month of November (as compared to 14.7% in April when the proclamation was announced).[1]

In contrast, the rate of unemployment for specialized workers in the computer industry was 2.3% in November.[2] The unemployment rate in the computer occupations field is actually lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 3.0% in January 2020.

Likely due to the remote nature and technology-dependent shift in work since the pandemic began, computer occupations are more in need of employees than ever before. A study by the National Foundation for American Policy found that over a 30-day period this summer, 639,000 job postings were listed in the specialized field of computer occupations. In fact, the H-1B, L-1, and J-1 visa classifications can be used for a wide array of professional positions in different industries. As the US workforce worked its way through 2020, many companies and industries adapted and were able to keep workers employed, as indicated by the labor statistics.

Experts speculate that once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he will rescind the proclamations. In the meantime, it should be noted that these proclamations are very specific. Whether or not you would be affected by the proclamation depends on the facts of your particular situation. Therefore, be sure to consult with a qualified immigration attorney before making travel plans.

If you need help navigating this process with confidence, please contact us today to get the process underway! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the US and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email to info@sumnerimmigration.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2021/01/01/trump-ignores-jobs-data-to-extend-h-1b-visa-and-immigration-bans/?sh=19bb9ca65821

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