We're seeing rumors and information coming out from a range of sources that say the Trump Administration is looking to potentially roll out some highly impactful changes to nonimmigrant visas in the coming weeks. These impact a wide range of visas, and the information is evolving over time.
Updated June 23 @ 8:36am: Official Executive Order Information Added
On Monday, June 22 President Trump amended Proclamation 10014 by executive order and modified it to include mention of nonimmigrant visas. This action has suspended and limited entry into the United States for a wide range of people, and I’ve worked through this information to summarize it here.
Updated June 12 @ 11:00am: Added new reference articles from Forbes and TheHill.com
Article from Forbes: Speculation Mounts As List Of U.S. Work Visas To Be Restricted Grow
Article from TheHill.com: Chamber CEO urges Trump against entry bans impacting work visa holders
I want to make it very clear from the outset that these are not finalized, these are not confirmed, and they are essentially rumors. That being said, the sources of these rumors are qualified and generally don't (just like I don't) report information like this unless they think it's grounded.
It's also important to note that I am not an immigration attorney, and I would always urge you to speak to an immigration attorney if you have any concerns.
The information coming out, if true, would also have a direct impact on those currently outside the United States so I want to present this information to make sure they are informed as early as possible.
I will also continue to update this article over the course of the next few days and weeks with any new information I learn.
Which visas are affected by this information
The first round of information we have seen suggests that the changes will impact the following visas:
- OPT (suggested STEM changes);
- J-1 (unclear which categories);
- H-2B; and
- L-1 (unclear about L-1A and/or L-1B).
At this stage, we have not seen any mention of the E-3 visa (or E-3D, or E-3R).
We have also seen an indication that agencies will include particular exceptions for the above, however, we are unsure at this stage about what exactly. The best guess at this stage would be that exceptions could include for COVID-19 related activities, certain health-care and high-skilled workers, food-supply (H-2B).
Suspension of entry for certain visa holders
The first element of this change would be the suspension of entry for certain non-immigrant workers for a period of up to 180 days.
This would include H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and certain J-1 exchange visitor participants.
My personal suggestion is that if you have one of those visas and are not in the US, you should return absolutely as soon as possible.
Changes to post-completion OPT and STEM OPT
The suggestion right now is that post-completion OPT and STEM OPT will be limited to 12-months and there may be limitations of who qualifies for these 12-months.
Changes to H-1B requirements
The filing fee could change from $460 to $20,000 per case (this, like many other provisions, is expected to be hotly contested).
The “Strengthening H-1B” regulation would redefine “employer-employee relationships” and “specialty occupations”, as well as modifications to who requires LCA documents (i.e. professional service firms and their clients jointly) and who files these documents.
There is also discussion about requiring Level 2 Wages after the first 2 years of being employed at Level 1 Wages.
Removal of H-4 Spousal Work Authorization
There is a suggestion that this change would also include rescinding the H-4 spousal work authorization rule.
Changes for Asylum Seekers, Asylees, those with TPS, and Refugees
This would be a dramatic change in policy, which would mean removing work authorization for this group of nonimmigrants.
Changes impacting E-3 Visa holders
At this stage, we do not see any impact for E-3 visas holders, E-3R (renewals), or E-3D dependant visas.
When will these changes take place?
As this is still speculation, I want to emphasize that we do not know for sure.
That being said, the suggestions are that it would be as early as June 15 but expected in the last two weeks of June (in line with the April 22 proclamation that there would be further review of the current migration limitations).
Changes beyond the above
We are also expecting further changes and implications for other visas through regulatory proposals, as opposed to policy changes. This will mean effectively that there may be impacts on other nonimmigrant visas, but in a less formal way and it may just become more difficult or cumbersome to go through the processes.
As I said at the start though, this is very much speculative at the moment, but we expect information to evolve over the coming days and weeks.