US relief for stranded spouses, kids of H, L, J visa holders

US visa

No valid visas will be revoked under Trump proclamation, assures the State Department.

Days after a group of stranded Indian families filed a lawsuit for quick action on their visa petitions, US State Department has exempted spouses and children of H, L, J visa holders from President Donald Trump’s entry ban.

Children, who are in danger of aging out of their current visa status before the expiry of Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending H-1B and other work visas till yearend, are also covered by exceptions announced by the State Department Thursday.

So are certain H and J visa applicants who are traveling to work in support of a critical US foreign policy objective such as covid-19 response and/or traveling at the request of the US government.

The State Department said it will continue to issue H, L, and J  visas to otherwise qualified derivative applicants who are otherwise currently excepted or where the principal applicant is currently in the US.

RELATED: H-1B, H4 and L1 visa banned till the end of the year (June 22, 2020)

No valid visas will be revoked under Trump’s June 22 proclamation, it assured.

But applicants for immigrant visas covered by the proclamation, including  Diversity Visa 2020 (DV-2020) applicants, who have not been issued an immigrant  visa as of April 23 are subject to the proclamation’s restrictions unless eligible for an exception.

With the State Department also announcing phased resumption of routine visa services at its consulates around the world, stranded spouses and children of work visa holders in India may be able to fly back to the US soon after getting their visas stamped.

As post-specific conditions permit, US missions will also phase in processing some routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visa cases, the State Department said.

These include travelers with urgent travel needs; students (F-1, M-1, and certain J-1); and some family members of US citizens consistent with the presidential proclamation.

The State Department said it was committed to implement Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending the entry of foreign nationals presenting a risk to the US labor market in the covid-19 recovery phase in an orderly fashion.

ALSO READ: Stranded Indian H-1B, H-4 visa holders sue US government (July 15, 2020)

There were already certain limited exceptions to the Presidential Proclamation for humanitarian travel, public health response, and national security, it said. Other limited exceptions announced Thursday include:

  • applicants who are subject to aging out of their current immigrant visa classification before the relevant proclamations expire or within two weeks thereafter.
  • certain H and J visa applicants who are traveling to work in support of a critical US foreign policy objective such as covid-19 response and/or traveling at the request of the US government.
  • spouses and children of certain visa class holders, such as H, J, and L visa holders who are already excepted from, or not subject to the presidential proclamation.

A group of 174 H-1B and H-4 visa holders stranded in India had on Tuesday challenged Trump’s June 22 proclamation preventing them from returning to the US in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

US Embassies and Consulates, the State Department said, are also beginning a phased resumption of routine visa services worldwide suspended in March 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

As global conditions evolve, the resumption of routine visa services will occur on a post-by-post basis, the State Department said. US missions, meanwhile will continue to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services as they have done since March.

Saying it was unable to provide a specific date for when each mission will resume specific visa services, it advised applicants to see each individual US Embassy or Consulate’s website for information regarding operating status and which services it is currently offering.

Applicants with an urgent matter who need to travel immediately should follow the guidance provided on their nearest embassy or consulate’s website to request an emergency appointment.

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