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FAQ for Non-Immigrant Visa Ban until Dec. 31, 2020

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the issuance of new work visas through the end of 2020, many people are wondering how they will be affected. Foreign citizens come to the U.S. on a wide variety of visa types for a wide variety of reasons, and it can be difficult to determine how the order will impact any one given person’s particular situation. Below, we present some common scenarios and frequently asked questions in an effort to clarify exactly who will (and won’t) be impacted, and how.

What visa types are included in the ban?

The ban applies to those seeking new H-1B, H-2B, H-4, L-1, L-2, and J-1 visas. People already in the United States with one of these visa stamps in their passport are not affected and will be allowed to remain in the U.S. However, as of 12:00 a.m. (beginning of the day) on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, USCIS will issue zero new visas in any of these categories until the beginning of 2021.

If I have a valid visa from one of the above categories, but I am currently out of the country for a short duration, will I be allowed to re-enter the U.S.?

Yes, you will be allowed to re-enter. For example, if you have a valid H-1B stamp in your passport but are currently taking a family vacation abroad, you are not prohibited from returning the U.S. The ban applies only to the issuance of new work visas.

I was selected in the H-1B registration lottery for FY2021. Do I have to forfeit my spot?

No. Anyone chosen in the lottery, or anyone filing an H-1B petition with USCIS for FY2021, will get to keep their place in line. But you will not be allowed to enter the U.S. to begin working until the suspension expires. However, if you are already in the U.S. (such as on OPT), you will be allowed to work on an H-1 visa, once it is approved.

I am currently in the U.S. on an H-1B visa. How does the ban affect me?

It doesn’t. You will not face any new restrictions or parameters. You are free to file a transfer request to transfer your H-1B to another company, file for an H-1B extension, or file for any amendments to your current H-1B agreement. You are also allowed to travel outside the U.S. and return, as long as you follow the previously existing standard procedure and bring all required documents with you.

I have a pending application for an H-4 visa to follow my spouse to the U.S. If I’ve already turned in my application, will USCIS continue to process it as normal?

Unfortunately, no. If you don’t have an H-4 stamp in your passport at this moment, you will not be able to get one until the ban is lifted. Even if you were previously in the U.S. and have left temporarily for vacation (or, even worse, to get an H-4 stamp in your home country), you will not be able to follow to join your spouse for the remainder of the year.

I am currently in the U.S. on an H-4 visa. Can I file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)?

Yes, you can, provided you are generally eligible for H4 Visa EAD. You maintain all rights and privileges associated with your current status. You can file for an EAD, work in the U.S. if the application is approved, apply for an extension, or apply for a change of status.

I am in the United States on an L-1A visa, and my spouse is with me as an L-2 dependent. How are we affected?

The order does not affect you. If you are already in the U.S. with the appropriate L-1A, L-1B, or L-2 visa stamp in your passport, you may remain in the U.S. for the standard duration. You are free to file for any necessary extensions or status changes, and if your L-2 spouse has an EAD, he or she may continue to work and extend the EAD or visa duration, as well.

I live abroad, and I have been communicating with a U.S. university to acquire a J visa and teach there in the fall. Can these talks continue?

No, they can’t. Anyone without a valid J-1 visa stamp in their passport as of June 23, 2020, will not be granted one for the rest of the year. This suspension of J-1 visas applies to prospective interns, trainees, teachers, camp counselors, au pairs, and summer work travel programs.

I live abroad, and I have plans to travel to the U.S. this fall on an F-1 visa to study at a university. Can I still do this?

Yes, you can. The executive order does not apply to current or future F-1 student visa holders.

I am working as an OPT (or STEM OPT) holder in the U.S. Will I be able to continue with my program?

Yes, you can. The ban does not impact this type of employment. Similarly, if you are currently in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, you can apply for OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT and follow that process just as you would under normal circumstances.

I came to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, I am currently working on CPT/OPT, and I recently applied for H-1 status. Will my application be considered?

Yes, as H-1 visa status and an H-1 visa stamp are two different things. That means that if you were to leave the U.S., you would not be able to come back because you will be unable to get an H-1 visa stamp, as there will be no more H-1B visas issued for the remainder of 2020.

Can I come to the U.S. on a tourist visa (B visa), an “extraordinary ability” visa (O visa), a media visa (I visa), or any other type of visa not mentioned in the executive order?

Yes. The intent of the executive order is to make as many U.S. job opportunities as possible available for legal, permanent U.S. residents or citizens who are currently in the country. Visas not tied to the idea of coming to the U.S. to make money are not affected. Only the visa types explicitly mentioned in the executive order are suspended.

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