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Obtaining a Waiver to Trump’s Covid-19 Travel Bans

September 16, 2020
Tahreem Kalam

On May 24, 2020 and June 22, 2020, the White House issued 2 Presidential Proclamations in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, severely restricting travel into the U.S. for many foreign nationals.

The Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Novel Coronavirus prevents any foreign national who had been present in China, Iran, Schengen Area countries, Ireland, UK or Brazil, within 14 days of travel to the U.S., entering the U.S.  Exception apply to foreign nationals who have US Citizen family members.

Additionally, Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak further restricted travel to the U.S. by restricting the issuance of visa stamps for those looking to travel and enter on the H-1B or L-1 temporary work visas, even if they had existing residence in the U.S.

Requesting and Obtaining a Waiver or Exception to enter the U.S.

The Proclamation provides for certain discretionary waivers to allow entry into the U.S. for individuals subject to the entry ban. Waivers are to be decided on a case-by-case basis and until recently, criteria for the National Interest Exception (also referred to as “wavier” below) was unknown. On August 12, 2020, the State Department published guidance on its website, travel.state.gov on what qualifies for a National Interest Exception (NIE).

Consulates are in varying stages of reopening and many are not accepting routine visa appointments.  individuals subject to the travel bans must establish eligibility for an exception at the time they request a visa appointment.

If a foreign national is abroad and has been unable to enter or return to the U.S. due to one of the Presidential Proclamation travel bans, the attorneys at MMH will be able to walk you through what you need to qualify. We will work with you on determining what you need to enter the U.S. and the chance of you receiving a waiver to enter the U.S. Information that assists us in determining your chances of obtaining an approved waiver to enter the U.S. depends on some of the below:

  • Countries you have visited recently;
  • Whether you have any US Citizen immediate family members;
  • Whether you currently have a job or job offer in the U.S. and details regarding that job.

Furthermore, if you fall under any of the below criteria, you likely have a high chance of obtaining a travel waiver to enter the U.S.:

  • Public health/healthcare professionals or researchers traveling to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or to conduct ongoing medical research;
  • Individuals traveling at the request of a U.S. government agency to meet critical U.S. foreign policy objectives or to satisfy treaty or contractual obligations;
  • Applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the U.S. in the same position with the same employer and visa classification;
  • Technical specialists, senior level managers and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States.

Critical infrastructure sectors include: chemical, communications, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, transportation, and water systems.

Our office has successfully obtained numerous NIEs for many foreign nationals. Once a waiver is granted, you will have 30 days to enter the U.S. and the waivers are valid for single entry only.  If you have any questions or would like to explore whether you or a family member may qualify for the National Interest Exception or Waiver to the travel bans currently in place, you can contact us at  MMHPC.COM.

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