DOS Provides Information on National Interest Exceptions to Presidential Proclamations for H-1Bs, H-2Bs, L-1s, and J-1s

US Embassy Nairobi

There are a large number of presidential proclamations and executive orders currently suspending visas and travel for many individuals. Two of these proclamations, 10014 & 10052, contained some exceptions which were not fully implemented at the time of the proclamation.

Now, the US Department of State has issued a notice detailing the way these national interest exceptions should be implemented. The notice is fairly detailed, but here are some of the key points:

  • The Proclamation does not apply to applicants who were in the United States on the effective date of the Proclamation (June 24), or who had a valid visa in the classifications mentioned above (and plans to enter the United States on that visa), or who had another official travel document valid on the effective date of the Proclamation.
  • The suspension on entry applies to spouses and children as H-4, L-2, or J-2 entrants, but so do the exceptions.
  • All the proclamations must be considered together. They have different applicability and different exceptions. “Until complete resumption of routine visa services, applicants who appear to be subject to entry restrictions under P.P. 10014, P.P. 10052, and/or regional-focused Presidential Proclamations related to COVID-19 (P.P. 9984, 9992, 9993, 9996, and/ or 10041) might not be processed for a visa interview appointment unless the applicant also appears to be eligible for an exception under the applicable Proclamation(s).”
  • What to do if you think you qualify for an exception? “follow the instructions on the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate’s website regarding procedures necessary to request an emergency appointment and should provide specific details as to why they believe they may qualify for an exception.”
  • H-1B applicants should look closely at the groups which are given exceptions because they are very detailed (travel as a public health or healthcare professional or researcher, travel supported by a request from a U.S. government agency, travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification, travel by technical specialists, senior level managers).
  • H-2B applicants may also qualify for “travel based on a request from a U.S. government agency” and “travel necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States”
  • J-1s may meet an exception for travel related to child care (such as au pairs in certain circumstances), J-1s based on agreements between foreign governments and US agencies, Interns and Trainees on U.S. government agency-sponsored programs, Specialized Teachers in Accredited Educational Institutions with a program number beginning with “G-5” on Form DS-2019, and Critical foreign policy objectives.
  • L-1As may travel as public health or healthcare professionals, based on a request from a U.S. government agency, by those seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification, and for senior level executive or manager filling a critical business need of an employer meeting a critical infrastructure need
  • L-1Bs may travel as public health or healthcare professionals, based on a request from a U.S. government agency, by those seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification, and as a technical expert or specialist meeting a critical infrastructure need
  • Finally, also included are applicants who are subject to aging out of their current immigrant visa classification before P.P. 10014 expires or within two weeks thereafter.