Pandemic-related ban on H-1Bs and other work visas expires

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Last June, the Trump administration put in place a ban on H-1B visas for temporary skilled workers. The ban was intended to protect public health by preventing new people from entering the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic. It was also meant to protect the U.S. job market during the downturn caused by the pandemic. Later, the ban was extended to other temporary work visas.

Now, the Biden administration has allowed the ban to expire. This move was expected. In February, President Biden issued a proclamation condemning the ban, saying that a freeze on immigration was counterproductive to U.S. interests, businesses and individuals.

“It harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” read the proclamation.

The ban initially affected only H-1B visa holders, who are skilled professionals, often in the tech industry. However, the ban grew to affect L-1 visa holders, who are intracompany transferees from abroad, along with au pairs, students in work-study programs and seasonal workers in the hospitality industry.

President Biden has also ended a ban on other immigrants, including family members of U.S. citizens, some workers with employment-based green cards, and winners of the diversity lottery program.

The ban kept visa holders from being able to enter the United States and interrupted visa processing.

According to the State Department, visa applicants whose interview process was interrupted by the ban will now be prioritized. Other visa applicants will be phased in as soon as possible.

If you were refused a visa due to the ban, you may now reapply. You will need to submit a new application and filing fee.

Please note: some embassies and consulates continue to operate on an emergency or mission-critical basis due to the pandemic restrictions. Check the website of the nearest embassy or consulate to make sure they are providing the services you need.

If you are interested in an H-1B, L-1 or other visa to work in the United States, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. Alison Yew is a certified specialist in immigration law, and we have years of experience helping people live and work in the U.S.