by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.
The long-awaited expiration of travel bans for certain key employee visas expired on March 31, 2021, after a 10-month restriction. This ban was put in place by President Trump on June 22, 2020, when he signed Presidential Proclamation 10052 that suspended the issuance of visas in certain nonimmigrant (temporary) worker categories from July 24 until December 31, 2020. This suspension was renewed on January 5, 2021, and extended until March 31, 2021. President Biden did not take the opportunity to rescind it during his first few months in office, instead allowing it to sunset at the end of Q1 2021.
This ban applied to new applications for the following non-immigrant visa categories:
H-1B and H-2B nonimmigrants;
L-1A executives and managers;
L-1B specialized knowledge workers;
J-1 interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs and Summer Work Travel participants; and
Their dependent spouses and children.
The effect of the end of this ban means that applicants for visa in the above categories may now apply for these visas from within the United States or from abroad.
Considerations for Consular Interviews Abroad
However, for applicants residing outside of the United States, there may be increased delays in scheduling the required consular interview, as US consulates around the world are reopening on their own schedules. Some are processing interviews for emergencies only, while others have commenced processing for all visa types. If you have been waiting to apply due to the visa ban, time is of the essence in applying, as there will be an expected rush in applications and requests for interviews.
According to the Department of State, "the resumption of routine visa services, prioritized after services to U.S. citizens, is occurring on a post-by-post basis, consistent with the Department’s guidance for safely returning its workforce to Department facilities. U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March 2020, and will continue to do so as they are able. As post-specific conditions improve, [their] missions will begin providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services. Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on the services that post is currently offering."
Premium Processing Option
Fortunately, Premium processing is available for H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 visas, which means that for an additional $2,500 filing fee, USCIS will review your application and provide a decision (approval, Request for more Evidence, or denial), within 15 business days of receipt of the application. This is in contrast to a 3-8 months-long wait under regular processing.
Priority for Currently Pending Applications
Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed, or scheduled for an interview, will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.
How Can I Apply?
To take advantage of this long-awaited end of the travel ban, Click here to schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.
The Grady Firm works with dynamic employers and employees across the country to prepare successful employment-based visa and Green Card applications. In addition, we help individuals, families, employees, business owners, and investors obtain non-immigrant and immigrant visas (B-1/B2, H-1B, H-2B, L-1A, L-1B, O-1, TN, E-2, E-3), as well and Green Cards and citizenship based on family relationships, investment, or employment.
This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.