July 8, 2020

There are too many Presidential Proclamations banning entry to the US to keep track of, and they keep coming thick and fast. Here is a brief summary of where we are right now.

The “public health” bans:

Proclamation 9984 of 1/31/20, suspends entry into the US by anyone who has been in China within the last 14 days. Proclamation 9992 of 2/29/20 expanded this to Iran. Proclamation 9993 of 3/11/20  suspends entry into the US by any traveler who has been anywhere in Europe -the whole 26-country Schengen area- within the last 14 days, and Proclamation 9994 of 3/14/2020 bans travelers who have been in the UK or Ireland anytime within the past 14 days. Proclamation 9996, of 3/24/20, bans travelers who have been in Brazil in the last 14 days. Russia has not been included yet, but their COVID-19 case numbers are skyrocketing, so another announcement is not out of the question, despite the President’s obsequious behavior toward Russia.

The “protect the labor market” bans:

Proclamation 10014 of 4/23/2020  banned entry of certain immigrants for 60 days, including a moratorium on new visa issuance or resissuance, with possible extension & expansion. This had little immediate effect, since US Embassies and Consulates had already been closed to regular visa processing since March 18. The ban does not apply to US citizens or permanent residents, and exceptions exist for critical COVID-related healthcare workers & medical researchers, cases in the national interest, and spouses, parents or minor children of US citizens & lawful permanent residents.

Proclamation 10052 of 6/22/2020  extended the ostensibly labor-related ban on admission or visa issuance to H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1,J-2, L-1, & L-2 nonimmigrants, as well as to all EB-2 & EB-3 immigrants, who were outside the US on June 22, and did not already have a valid visa in hand in one of these categories. This ban extends through December 31, 2020, but may be extended. The same exemptions & exceptions apply as above. However, this ban is being read over-broadly, and individual communications from US consular posts abroad have indicated that they are not planning to issue new H, J or L visas this year even to travelers not covered by the plain language of the Proclamation, such as who were in the US on the date of the Proclamation, and/or who had a valid visa stamp in one of those categories that expires later in the year. The Department of State has not issued a formal, Agency-wide statement on its website adopting this approach, as they are probably well aware that doing so would lead shortly to lawsuits they might lose. They are at least apparently leaving it to the discretion of individual consular posts, where it is somewhat shielded from the courts by the doctrine of consular non-reviewability.