First Clarification of Work Visa Restriction Order Issued

In the first of what will likely be many clarifications, the administration has issued an amendment to the June 22, 2020 order. This order sought to restrict visa stamp issuance and US entry in H-1B, L-1, and J-1 those residing abroad who did not already have valid visa stamps in their passports.

The original order was vague as to application in many circumstances, and many practitioners had been speculating about ways to expand on the extremely unclear wording to allow clients in several types of circumstances to obtain visas and enter the US notwithstanding the new pronouncement.

One scenario frequently discussed by practitioners over the last week involved foreign nationals outside the US who already possessed a valid visa stamp of a different visa type than those restricted by the order – for instance, an F-1 student stamp of B-1/B-2 visitor stamp. While the presidential order was intended to restrict issuance of a new H-1B, L-1 or J-1 stamp, the wording allowing existing stamps was so vague that in theory any existing stamp for any visa type could have allowed issuance of a new stamp in one of the restricted categories.

This new order clarifies that this wasn’t intended, eliminating that possible work-around for people with existing stamps of non-restricted visa types.

That the amendment was needed for the administration to achieve its original goal is a testament to the extremely poor wording of the original order – and the extent to which those making the rules don’t really understand how they work.