The Biden-Harris administration has allowed Presidential Proclamation 10052 (PP 10052) to expire as of March 31. PP 10052, implemented by the previous administration in June 2020, had suspended the issuance of certain nonimmigrant or temporary visas in several categories.
The categories include:
- H-1B Specialty Occupation visas, and H-4 dependent family members;
- H-2B Temporary Worker visas, and dependent family members;
- J-1 visas, if seeking admission to participate in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program, and J-2 dependent family members; and
- L-1A and L-1B Intracompany Transferee visas, and L-2 dependent family members.
This proclamation essentially had the effect of blocking issuance of new visas in these categories to applicants abroad. Initially valid through the end of 2020, PP 10052 had been extended by former President Donald Trump through March 31, 2021.
The expiration of PP 10052 means that individuals who were previously subject to the proclamation will no longer be prohibited from applying for a visa in these categories, nor will such applicants be required to seek National Interest Exceptions (NIEs) to the proclamation. This will be highly beneficial for companies and employees seeking to resume global mobility.
Yesterday, the US Department of State announced that visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee. The State Department also confirmed that consulates are resuming routine visa services on a post-by-post basis, consistent with official guidance for safely returning staff to State Department facilities.
Notwithstanding the State Department announcement, the limited availability of visa appointments at US consular posts around the world will continue to raise challenges. US embassies and consulates continue to operate at limited capacity due to COVID-19, logistical difficulties, and country-specific lockdowns, and most consular posts are offering visa issuance appointment dates into the summer and fall of 2021, and even winter of 2022 at some locations. Moreover, with the recent lifting of Proclamation 10014, the Trump administration ban on processing of certain immigrant visas (green cards) abroad, many consulates are now prioritizing the processing of immigrant visas over nonimmigrant or temporary visas. There is currently a backlog of almost a half a million immigrant visa cases awaiting consular interviews.
Thus, although PP 10052 will no longer be in effect, it will likely remain difficult for applicants to secure a routine visa appointment, and many may need to rely on emergency appointment requests to secure visas in the immediate future. Furthermore, despite the expiration of PP 10052, the country-specific admission bans remain in effect. These COVID-19-specific travel bans restrict the admission of individuals who have been present in any of the following countries during the 14 days preceding their proposed entry to the United States: Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom (including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland) and the Schengen area (which includes Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland).
While these bans remain in effect, individuals present in any of these countries will not be able to secure a visa in any category unless they are preapproved for entry to the United States through the approval of an NIE to the COVID-19-related travel bans. Applicants in other countries not impacted by a COVID-19-related travel ban may have an easier time securing an appointment for nonimmigrant visa issuance.