The U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced
that Presidential Proclamation 10052, which suspended the entry of H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 nonimmigrants, expired on March 31, 2021. This is welcome news because it was not clear whether the Biden Administration was going to extend this ban.
Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview as a result of this proclamation will now have their applications prioritized and processed per existing phased resumption of visa services guidance
. Applicants who were refused visas due to the restrictions of the proclamation may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee.
While this is welcome news and an important step towards removing barriers on entry for foreign national employees, it will not likely result in immediate processing of these nonimmigrant visa applications because visa processing continues to be limited at U.S. Consulates and Embassies throughout the globe due to COVID-related staffing shortages.
In addition, the COVID regional travel bans remain in place for foreign nationals present in the UK, Ireland, Schengen Area, China, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa (or those who have been in these locations within the past 14 days). For these regional travel bans, foreign nationals still require National Interest Exception (NIE) waivers in order for the visa to be issued (or where they already have valid visas, for permission to travel to the United States).
Currently the UK, Ireland, and Schengen Area are the only regions with specific criteria for obtaining an NIE, regarding which we reported
recently. As the other regional bans do not list specific NIE guidance, immigration attorneys have utilized the NIE guidance under PP 10052. Now that PP 10052 has sunset, we are awaiting guidance from DOS as to what standards will be applied for NIE issuance in these regions and will keep you updated as we learn more.