On February 24, 2021, President Biden issued an order revoking Presidential Proclamation 10014, which had banned the issuance of immigrant visas to most foreign nationals.
Former President Trump issued Presidential Proclamation 10014 on April 22, 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It prevented the entry into the United States of individuals with immigrant visas unless they qualified for an exemption (e.g., national interest exemption or immediate family member of a U.S. citizen). In addition, after issuance of the Proclamation, many U.S. Consulates largely halted issuing immigrant visas as a result of pandemic-related safety precautions.
The former President signaled that Presidential Proclamation 10014 would protect U.S. workers during a period of high unemployment resulting from COVID-19 related business operations closures and shelter-in-place orders. However, the objectives of the restrictive order may not have been achieved. According to a Wall Street Journal article, many U.S. businesses that were able to remain open during the pandemic were unable to fill critical jobs as some unemployed Americans were not interested in the jobs held by foreign nationals at the lower and seasonal end of the job market. Similarly, the immigrant travel ban did not help unemployed Americans who were unqualified for specialized jobs at the higher end of the market.
In the order revoking Presidential Proclamation 10014, President Biden stated that the immigrant visa ban “does not advance the interests of the United States,” and in fact, “it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here.”
While individuals with immigrant visas may resume entering the United States, other COVID-19 related travel bans remain in place. Specifically, President Biden recently extended the ban of admission of individuals present in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, European Schengen Area, Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa within 14 days prior to arrival in the United States. Also, Presidential Proclamation 10052 – which suspends the issuance of H, L, and certain J nonimmigrant visas unless admission of the foreign national satisfies a national interest exemption such as public health – remains in place. For individuals subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052 or any of the regional travel bans, the U.S. Department of State will deny visa applications unless the individual is also approved for a National Interest Exemption. Therefore, individuals cannot obtain the visa and then travel to a third country to wait out the 14-day period.
Presidential Proclamation 10052 is currently set to expire on March 31, 2021 but the Biden Administration has not indicated whether it will allow this order to expire or whether it will be extended. As for the regional travel bans, President Biden ordered that local conditions be reviewed every 30 days, although no specific end date has been announced for this ban.
SGG has successfully assisted several clients with obtaining National Interest Exemptions and nonimmigrant visas, including medical researchers and executives among others. Although we continue to recommend against international travel due to these executive orders, if you or an employee needs to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate, our office can help determine whether certain exemptions may apply.