Analysis & Insights

Nonimmigrant Visas Requiring DoL / SEVIS Approval During COVID-19 Pandemic (7/6)
by
Yoshiteru Ito
10-Jul-2020

The White House has announced to suspend the entry of the individuals entering the United States from the early stages of the pandemic; Basic travel restrictions from heavily infected countries such as China, Iran, and Italy have started since mid-February. Later, the restriction has expanded to include other countries as well.1 These entry restrictions and visa suspensions were imposed based upon the respective countries these applicants are from or have visited, regardless of their visa type, for example the Schengen Area.2

While suspensions and restrictions on basic travel and immigrant visas have been imposed since the early stages of the pandemic, the following economic difficulty within the United States has forced the White House to further impose limitations on nonimmigrant visas as well. Individuals applying and possessing nonimmigrant working visas such as H, L and J visas are suspended from entering the United States, as they are categorized as “Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak”. This proclamation is effective until December 31st 2020, but is subject to change if necessary.3

The exceptions are made towards H, L and J visa holders “ whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.” and “seeking to enter the United States to provide temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain”. Examples of these exempted visa holders include individuals related and involved in diplomatic activities, defense, law enforcement, and medical research to combat COVID-19 in the United States. Moreover, individuals who have contracted COVID-19 and are currently hospitalized are exempted from this suspension.4 ​As a general rule, nonimmigrant aliens who are physically already located in the United States and nonimmigrant visa holders that are other than H, L and J are not impacted.

This may imply the ensurement of the visa status and validity of non-work related nonimmigrant visa, such as F-1 for students, however, extensive suspension towards the spouses and the children of nonimmigrant working visa holders listed above suggests the possibility of visa suspension for non-work related nonimmigrant visa holders in the future. SEVP related visa holders are exempted from the usual five-month rule, limitations on one online course, and other restrictions.5 While there are no suspension for entry, requirements for maintaining F and M visas for 2020 Fall semester have changed.

Here are the current suspension status on DoL / SEVIS approval required nonimmigrant visas.

  • H-1B, H-2B, J and L: suspended from entering the United States. Unless explicitly stated as exempted above.
  • F and M: no suspension announced as of now. Requires in-person classes to remain in the country.
  • E-3: no suspension announced as of now. Contact US embassy / consulate in Australia for details.

Information will be updated at ice.gov and travel.state.gov. Follow our site covid19today.org to have quick and collective access for most recent updates.

1  https://www.ustravel.org/sites/default/files/media_root/document/Coronavirus_Specific.pdf

2  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigra nts-certain-additional-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/

3  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-l abor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/

4  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-l abor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/

5  https://www.ice.gov/doclib/coronavirus/covid19faq.pdf

Yoshiteru Ito

Yoshiteru Ito

Policy Intern
Seattle, WA

Yoshiteru Ito is a rising Junior from Tufts University, double majoring in Applied Physics and International Relations. Born and raised in Japan, he attended St.Mary’s International School in Tokyo. With his bilingual skills and multicultural background, he has been involved in several multinational organizations including Global China Connection, Japan Festival Boston Logistics Team, and TAMID Group. He specializes in the utilization of quantitative analysis in various projects from market research to web traffic analysis for advertisement. To pursue his career in the field of science diplomacy in the future, he joined the COVID-19 Today team.

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