At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the former administration issued a number of Presidential Proclamations that impacted both visa issuance and international travel.

Of note, there was one Presidential Proclamation that prohibited the issuance of immigrant (green card) visas and another on the issuance of the H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visas. Earlier this year the Biden Administration lifted the immigrant visa issuance ban. The visa issuance ban on H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 visas will also be sunsetting as of tonight, March 31, 2021. It is our understanding that the Biden Administration will not seek to renew this ban.

The international travel bans, however, remain. That is, currently, individuals are not able to travel directly to the United States if they are coming from any of the following countries. Please note that a layover in any of these countries will trigger the travel restrictions:

  • Any of the 26 Schengen countries
  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • People’s Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
  • Iran
  • Brazil
  • South Africa

For those needing to travel directly to the United States from any of these countries, they may apply directly to the U.S. Consulate where they are located for a National Interest Exception (“NIE”). NIEs are available where individuals can prove that they are coming to the United States, among limited other reasons, to provide vital support to the critical infrastructure of the United States. Such NIEs are only valid for a single entry and must be used within 30 days of the issuance. At this time, there is no information as to when these travel restrictions will be lifted.

All of the above information has been provided for informational purposes only. Please contact your Clark Lau LLC attorney to see how this impacts your specific circumstances.