The Department of State announced that, as of April 6, 2021, it is working to reduce the significant backlog of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants awaiting an interview. According to the State Department, its immigrant visa sections that have capacity are prioritizing the processing of immigrant and fiancée visas, along with immigrant visa cases previously refused under rescinded Presidential Proclamations 9645 and 9983.
U.S. Embassies and Consulates that process nonimmigrant visas are prioritizing travelers with urgent needs, foreign diplomats and mission-critical categories of travelers, followed by some students, exchange visitors and temporary employment visas.
Presidential Proclamation Suspending Issuance of Certain Nonimmigrant Visas Expires
The worldwide ban on issuance of H-1B, H-2B, J and L visas has ended. Presidential Proclamation 10052 expired on March 31, 2021, and was not renewed. While most U.S. consulates are still on very limited appointment schedules, it will now be possible for applicants in these categories to obtain visa appointments and visas to allow them to enter the United States.
The Trump administration issued Proclamation 10052 on June 22, 2020, with an effective date of June 24, 2020, to protect the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak. This barred nonimmigrants in those categories (with certain exceptions such as for spouses of U.S. citizens) who were not in the United States on June 24, 2020; did not already have a nonimmigrant visa effective on that date and with which they were seeking entry; and did not have an official travel document other than a nonimmigrant visa that was valid on June 24, 2020, from entering the United States unless they obtained a National Interest Exception.
The State Department also advised that it will prioritize applications of visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview, as far as possible at U.S. consular posts, and that those who were refused a visa under Proclamation 10052 may now reapply with a new fee.
It is important to note that the health-related travel bans linked to the geographic area from which the traveler is coming, including those related to travel from the Schengen Area, Ireland and the U.K., remain in place with applicable National Interest Exceptions. Duane Morris will provide updates on these travel bans as they are issued.
For More Information
If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact any of the attorneys in our Immigration Law Group, any of the attorneys in our Employment, Labor, Benefits and Immigration Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.
Originally Published 8 April, 2021
Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.