On July 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued two statements addressing exemptions to the Trump Administration’s recent proclamations that restrict immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the U.S.

European Schengen Area, U.K., and Ireland Entry Bans

The Trump Administration placed an entry ban on travelers from the European Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland in March 2020. While these bans will remain in effect until further notice from President Trump, DOS has stated that the following may be able to enter the U.S. despite being present in the three areas within 14 days of attempted entry into the U.S.:

  • Individuals with valid ESTA registrations for business travel;
  • Students traveling in F, M, and J status. However, J-1 students must seek a national interest waiver before traveling; and
  • E-1/E-2 treaty traders and investors.

Immigrant Entry Ban

The DOS also addressed exemptions regarding the immigrant entry ban that was issued by the Trump Administration in April 2020. The following are exempt:

  • Child immigrant visa applicants in danger of aging out of eligibility by January 14, 2021 (two weeks after the immigrant visa proclamation expires).

DOS confirmed that Diversity Visa lottery selectees who did not receive an immigrant visa by April 23, 2020 are subject to the visa ban unless they qualify for an exemption.

Nonimmigrant Entry Ban

Lastly, the DOS addressed exemptions regarding the nonimmigrant entry ban that was issued in June 2020. The following are exempt:

  • Spouses and children of H, J, and L visa holders who are already exempted from or are not subject to the nonimmigrant proclamation. If the principal nonimmigrant is exempt from restrictions because he/she was present in the U.S. or held an H, L or restricted J visa on June 24, 2020, his/her spouse and dependent children also benefit from that exemption. If a principal nonimmigrant is granted a discretionary exemption from the restrictions, the spouse and dependent children will receive the benefit of that exemption as well. DOS will continue to issue H, L, and J visas to dependents who qualify for their own exemption or where the principal applicant is in the U.S.
  • Certain H and J visa applicants traveling to work in support of a critical U.S. foreign policy objective (e.g. a COVID-19 response) and/or traveling at the request of the U.S. government.  Currently, it is not clear whether this exemption is available to L visa applicants.

Other Matters

DOS has not yet addressed the eligibility criteria for several of the key exemptions from the entry bans, including those related to U.S. national interest and labor/services deemed essential to the U.S. food supply chain.

SW Law Group will provide further updates as they become available regarding this matter.