State Department updates: Diversity Visas, J-1 exceptions to travel ban

17 Sep 20

UNITED STATES

The State Department posted two updates regarding the ongoing travel bans that suspend entry of immigrants and certain work-visa applicants.

Diversity visas. The agency will begin issuing immigrant visas to winners of the DV-2020 lottery, in compliance with a court order requiring the government to issue the visas by Sept. 30.

  • The State Department’s announcement lists how it will prioritize visa issuance to different groups of applicants.
  • Applicants who held valid diversity visas on April 23 (when the immigrant visa travel ban took effect) that have since expired may be reissued a visa before Sept. 30.
  • Applicants who were previously scheduled for an interview should contact the U.S. consulate for further information.
  • The State Department said it will not be able to issue all DV-2020 visas by the deadline. This means there may be individuals who are not issued visas and will lose eligibility to obtain a diversity visa. Additional information and instructions are available in the State Department notice.

J-1 national interest exceptions. The State Department also posted FAQs regarding J-1 visa applicants who may be eligible for a national interest exception to the work-visa travel ban, including:

  • Applicants in an exchange program under a qualifying agreement between a foreign government and the U.S. government and is designed to promote U.S. national interests.
  • Interns and trainees hosted by a U.S. government agency program that supports the U.S. economic recovery.
  • Certain specialized teachers who are teaching full-time and primarily in-person at an accredited institution.
  • J-1 visitors in an exchange program fulfilling “critical and time sensitive” foreign policy objectives.

BAL Analysis: Visa applicants are reminded that multiple travel bans remain in place and many U.S. consulates are only accepting emergency appointment requests at this time, during the phased resumption of visa services. The State Department stated that it may reschedule interviews for applicants in other visa categories in order to prioritize DV applicants. Those who are issued diversity visas remain barred from entering the U.S. under the immigrant-visa ban, unless they qualify for an exemption. They may, however, enter the U.S. if the ban expires during the diversity visa’s validity period, typically six months. BAL is closely following the multiple lawsuits challenging the travel bans, and will report additional information as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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