Many Visa Categories Suspended Through End of 2020
Reducing immigration has been an outspoken emphasis on the Trump administration. As the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to swell, many United States-based companies have been forced to furlough or lay off large swaths of their workforce. This has resulted in one of the highest unemployment rates in the country’s history.
In an effort to provide more employment opportunities to American citizens, President Trump announced a series of work visa category suspensions, effective June 24, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Multiple categories popular with employers are impacted, and the Trump administration has noted it expects hundreds of thousands of immigrants will now be unable to enter the country, in theory prioritizing Americans in a deflated job market.
Some of the work visa categories affected by the suspensions include:
- J visas, intended for interns and trainees
- L visas, intended for foreign transfers from foreign companies
- H-2B visas, intended for seasonal workers and used widely in agricultural and hospitality industries
- H-1B visas, intended for college-educated, “skilled” workers and used widely in tech industries
A current visa in any of the above categories is not invalidated by the new suspension order and remains active through the end of its established term. However, you will be unable to renew, extend, or change the type of any of the above work visas through the end of the year. It is also unclear if visa holders currently abroad will be able to renew their visas or any of the required travel documents.
The move was met with broad criticism by business leaders, many of whom claim work visas help fill employment vacancies Americans otherwise do not satisfy. Some legal observers suggest that the Trump administration’s accelerated process for instituting the suspension might violate federal procedure law and could be challenged and overturned in court. However, given the temporality of the ban, such a battle, if initiated, may extend past the suspension’s expiration date if it is not extended.
Several Visa Categories Remain Available
The Trump administration did not ban all visa categories in the recent suspensions. For example, O visas are intended for anyone the government decides has “extraordinary abilities or achievements” in one of several fields.
The O-1 visa for business professionals was excluded from the ban and offers many advantages over comparable work visa categories. The visa is meant to give business owners and entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their businesses in the United States. The O-1 visa still requires the recipient to have clear renown in their industry, which includes the support of a suitable sponsorship.
In addition, an O-1 visa applicant must have received a widely recognized international award comparable to the Nobel Prize, or provide at least 3 of the following:
- Substantial letters of support detailing your achievements by experts in your field
- Original, substantial contributions to your industry
- Proof of a significantly higher-than-average salary for your industry
- History of regularly earning national and international awards
- News articles or features written about you and your work in established, widely distributed publications
- Time served as a judge evaluating other members of your industry
- Memberships in exclusive groups of your industry’s peers
- Completion of important business in which you played an essential role
O-1A visas encompass those in the fields of science, education, business, or athletics. O-1B applies to those in the motion picture and television industries. Both can be useful to employers seeking exemplary foreign-born employees.
P1 visas, intended primarily for internationally recognized athletes, coaches, and other sports-affiliated persons, and E2 visas, for investors whose “substantial” investment will require them to work in the United States, were also spared from the new restrictions. The Trump administration is not expected to suspend any of the aforementioned categories, as the sports and entertainment fields are considered too important to the country’s morale.
How Our Attorney Can Help You
We at Oakhurst Immigration Law are committed to providing extraordinary advocacy for extraordinary individuals. Do not be discouraged by talk of immigration restrictions, as legal access to the United States is still possible for certain individuals. If you believe you are a prominent member of your field in entertainment or athletics and qualify for one of the visas unaffected by the Trump administration’s new suspensions, we may be able to help.
Our entertainment & sports visa attorney exclusively deals in O and P visas, giving our firm a focused edge in serving the needs of our clients. We can help review your qualifications and determine whether you qualify for an O or P visa. If you do, our team can use our skills and understanding of the complex process to help get your legal status as quickly as possible.