Today, the State Department issued two announcements regarding limited exceptions to President Donald Trump’s proclamations suspending the entry of certain immigrants and nonimmigrants.

Key points:

  • The proclamations restricting entry include certain limited exceptions for humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security. The government has not issued detailed guidance on how travelers can establish eligibility for these exceptions.
  • Today’s announcement states that other limited exceptions to the immigrant and nonimmigrant visa restrictions may be provided to:
    • Spouses and children of nonimmigrant visa holders in restricted categories, such as H, L, and J, who are already exempt from or are not subject to the work-visa ban. The work-visa ban covers those who were outside the U.S. on June 24 and do not already hold a valid nonimmigrant visa in the H-1B, H-2B, L-1, or most J-1 categories.
    • Children who would age out of their current immigrant visa classification before the proclamation expires or within two weeks thereafter. The proclamations are set to expire Dec. 31.
    • Certain H and J visa applicants who are traveling to work in support of a critical U.S. foreign policy objective (such as COVID-19 response) and/or traveling at the request of the U.S. government.
  • A second announcement relates to the current entry ban on travelers from Schengen Area countries, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The State Department indicated that students traveling from those countries with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel to the U.S. Students from those areas who are traveling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request. The announcement did not address travelers from China, Iran, or Brazil, who are currently subject to entry restrictions.

Additional information: The announcement provides that the State Department will continue to issue H, L and J visas to otherwise qualified family derivative applicants who are already excepted from the work-visa travel ban or where the main applicant is currently in the U.S. Additionally, the agency confirmed that winners of the FY2020 Diversity Visa lottery who have not been issued an immigrant visa as of April 23 are subject to the immigrant visa ban unless they fall under an exception.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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