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Looming Executive Order Affecting L-1, H-1B, H-2B, and J-1 Nonimmigrants? What’s being said?

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New rumors are yet again circling regarding the possibility of a future executive order banning the entry of certain non-immigrants from the United States. An official speaking on condition of anonymity has fueled these rumors divulging information that the Trump administration is getting ready to issue a new executive order that would temporarily suspend the entry of L-1, H-1B, H-2B, and J-1 non-immigrants for a period lasting several months.

A copy of the executive order has allegedly been leaked to the media; however, our office has not been able to find a draft copy of such an order. It is also important to note that even if a version of the executive order has been leaked, the official version of a future executive order banning non-immigrants might look substantially different.


What is being said about the potential executive order?


The order is rumored to suspend the entry of L-1, H-1B, H-2B, and J-1 non-immigrants for a temporary period lasting several months.

Like previous executive orders suspending immigrant and non-immigrant entry, the order will contain numerous exceptions, although these exceptions have not yet been made clear. We believe exceptions will likely apply to essential workers such as health professionals, those working to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, and essential workers in food-related industries.

As it relates to J-1 visas, it is rumored that only summer workers, camp counselors, trainees, and interns will be impacted, not medical physicians.

TAKEAWAY: If you have a valid L-1, H-1B, H-2B, or J-1 non-immigrant visa and you are abroad, you should consider returning to the United States as soon as possible.


Who will the order likely impact?


The order is rumored to impact only those in L, H, and J non-immigrant status outside the United States, however, the Trump administration is considering adding regulatory changes to the order that would impact OPT students and new H-1B applicants in the United States. This includes provisions that would end the STEM OPT program, and provisions tightening H-1B visa requirements to narrow the definition of “specialty occupation,” require higher wages, and increase H-1B filing fees.

TAKEAWAY: STEM OPT applications and extensions should be submitted as early as possible to avoid a negative impact.


When will the order be issued?


There are rumors that the order could be released as early as Friday this week or by next week. The order would likely be enforceable on the date of publication or shortly thereafter.

It is important to highlight that there is no official order yet, just rumors. Having said that this information is only to provide you with an idea of what may be on the horizon. Please keep in mind that the issuance of such an executive order would likely result in litigation potentially blocking the order from taking place.


What should those impacted be doing now?


If you are on one of the visa categories mentioned above and you are abroad, you should return to the U.S. as soon as practicable. In addition, interested parties such as employers can contact their Senators or Congressman to let them know such an order would have a negative impact on their workforce, and result in job losses.

Once we receive more concrete information on this order, we will update our blog.


Did you Know?


We have created a new facebook group answering all of your questions regarding the changing developments in immigration law and COVID-19 related updates. Follow us there!

For even more immigration information related to COVID-19 please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.