Update: Snapshot of Nonimmigrant Visa Bans and Travel Restrictions
On December 31, 2020, just as it was about to expire, President Donald Trump extended the ban on immigrant and nonimmigrant visas until March 31, 2020. Initiated in April and June 2020, the bans were intended to block immigrants and nonimmigrants (with H, L and J visas) from coming to the United States due to economic concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonimmigrant ban which has created a great deal of uncertainty for employers was partially blocked by a federal judge who determined that it likely exceeded the authority of the Executive Branch. The injunction, however, was not nationwide and only applies only to members of the plaintiff organizations: National Association of Manufacturers, Chamber of Commerce of the United States, National Retail Federation, Technet and Intrax. Some national interest exemptions are available but the requirements vary from consulate to consulate. Moreover, just obtaining visa appointments at the consulates can be challenging due to reduced operations.
These are far from the only travel restrictions that are still in effect. Presidential Proclamations blocking the entry of individuals who have been in 30 different countries during the 14-day period prior to admission remain in effect and due to the new strain of COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom, air passengers from the United Kingdom are not allowed to board flights to the United States unless they have proof of a negative COVID test within no more than three days prior to the flight. Passengers must provide an attestation regarding the testing. This restriction, unlike the others, applies not only to foreign nationals but to U.S. citizens and green card holders as well.