What does the Presidential Proclamation on L visas mean for my application? Can I still apply for an L visa at a U.S. Consulate? Can I apply for L-1 status from within the US?

By August 17, 2020December 2nd, 2020L-1 Visa

On June 22, 2020, a Presidential Proclamation was issued that impacts the ability of certain visa holders to enter the United States. Under this proclamation anyone who was outside the United States as of June 24, 2020 and did not already hold a valid L-1 visa on June 24, 2020 will not be able to enter the U.S. on an L-1 visa through December 31, 2020, subject to limited exceptions.

Can I still apply for an L-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate?

If you are currently outside the United States and you planned to submit an L-1 application with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) and then schedule an appointment at a U.S. Consulate for the L-1 visa stamp, you will not be able to obtain an L-1 visa stamp unless you fall into one of the limited exceptions in the Presidential Proclamation or you are eligible for a national interest exception. The Department of State recently published a list of national interest exceptions for L-1A & L-1B visa holders. An explanation of these exceptions can be found here, and the list of exceptions from the Department of State is also copied at the end of this blog post.

If I am eligible for a national interest exception can my spouse and children get L-2 visas to accompany me to the U.S.?

Yes. Under the new guidance from the Department of State the spouse and children of L-1 visa holders are eligible for national interest exceptions to either accompany or follow a principal L-1 applicant who is granted a national interest exception.

If I am already in the U.S., can I apply for L-1 status or extend my L-1 status?

The Presidential Proclamation only applies to people who are outside the United States, so if you are in the United States you are still permitted to change your status to L-1 status. Please note that if you entered the U.S. on ESTA you are not permitted to change status, however if you entered the U.S. on a visa status that permits changes of status, such as a B-1 business visitor, you would have the option to submit an application to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to change your status from B-1 to L-1. Additionally, if you are in the U.S. and you already hold L-1 status, you can apply to extend your L-1 status from within the United States.

If I am already in the U.S. on an L-1 and my spouse and children are outside the U.S., can they get L-2 visas?

Yes. If you are in the U.S. in L-1 status and you are not subject to the Presidential Proclamation either because you were in the U.S. on June 24, 2020, you already held a valid L-1 visa on that date, or you meet one of the other limited exceptions in the Presidential Proclamation, your spouse and children can be granted L-2 visas.

List of National Interest Exceptions to the Presidential Proclamation for L-1 Applicants

L-1A applicants

  • Travel as a public health or healthcare professional, or researcher to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit.  This includes those traveling to alleviate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that may be a secondary effect of the pandemic.
  • Travel based on a request from a U.S. government agency or entity to meet critical foreign policy objectives or satisfy treaty or contractual obligations.  An example of this would be supporting U.S. military base construction or IT infrastructure.
  • Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.  Forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause undue financial hardship. 
  • Travel by a senior level executive or manager filling a critical business need of an employer meeting a critical infrastructure need. 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.  An L-1A applicant falls into this category when at least two of the following three indicators are present AND the L-1A applicant is not seeking to establish a new office in the United States:
  1. Will be a senior-level executive or manager;
  2. Has spent multiple years with the company overseas, indicating a substantial knowledge and expertise within the organization that can only be replicated by a new employee within the company following extensive training that would cause the employer financial hardship; or
  3. Will fill a critical business need for a company meeting a critical infrastructure need.

L-1A applicants seeking to establish a new office in the United States likely do NOT fall into this category, unless two of the three criteria are met AND the new office will employ, directly or indirectly, five or more U.S. workers.

L-1B applicants

  • Travel as a public health or healthcare professional, or researcher to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, or to conduct ongoing medical research in an area with a substantial public health benefit. This includes those traveling to alleviate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that may be a secondary effect of the pandemic.
  • Travel based on a request from a U.S. government agency or entity to meet critical foreign policy objectives or satisfy treaty or contractual obligations. An example of this would be supporting U.S. military base construction or IT infrastructure.
  • Travel by applicants seeking to resume ongoing employment in the United States in the same position with the same employer and visa classification.  Forcing employers to replace employees in this situation may cause undue financial hardship.    
  • Travel as a technical expert or specialist meeting a critical infrastructure need.  The consular officer may determine that an L-1B applicant falls into this category if all three of the following indicators are present:
  1. The applicant’s proposed job duties and specialized knowledge indicate the individual will provide significant and unique contributions to the petitioning company;
  2. The applicant’s specialized knowledge is specifically related to a critical infrastructure need; AND
  3. The applicant has spent multiple years with the company overseas, indicating a substantial knowledge and expertise within the organization that can only be replicated by a new employee within the company following extensive training that would cause the employer financial hardship.

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