Department of State Clarifies Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations 10014 and 10052

On June 22, 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10052 extended Presidential Proclamation 10014 through December 31, 2020 thereby suspending entry to the United States of individuals deemed to present a “risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.” Certain exemptions to the proclamations included those traveling for humanitarian reasons, to respond to a public health issue, or for national security. On July 16, 2020, Department of State (DOS) provided clarification on other limited exceptions to the entry ban. These exceptions include:
• Spouses and children of principal J, H and L visa holders who are already excepted from or not subject to Presidential Proclamation 10052.
• Certain J and H visa applicants who are traveling to the United States to work in support of a critical U.S. foreign policy objective (such as COVID-19 response) and/or are traveling at the request of the U.S. government.
• Applicants for immigrant visas who are subject to aging out of their current immigrant visa classification before the relevant Presidential Proclamations expire or within two weeks thereafter.

The State Department announcement makes it clear, contrary to prior guidance, that consulates will continue to issue H-4, L-2, and J-2 visas to dependents of H-1B, L-1, and J-1 nonimmigrants, even if these dependents were subject to the entry bar because they were outside the United States on June 24 and did not have a valid visa on this date, provided that the principal in H-1B, L-1, or J-1 status is not subject to the bar because they were in the United States on June 24 or held a valid visa on that date. The exception is also available to H-4, L-2, or J-2 dependents in any situation where the principal is “currently” in the United States.

The clarification is welcome, since it prevents the separation of family members on the arbitrary basis of a person’s whereabouts or lack of a visa on June 24, and allows family members who would otherwise have been stranded outside the United States to return.

Visa applicants who believe they meet a national interest exception may request a visa appointment at the closest embassy or consulate and a decision will be made at the time of interview. Dependent visa applicants who meet the grounds outlined above do not need to make a national interest exception argument and can simply show evidence of the inapplicability of the entry ban to the principal.