As you may have heard, the White House on Monday evening issued a proclamation that could impact several nonimmigrant temporary work visas for individuals of all foreign nationalities. This is the latest in a recent series of federal immigration actions with potential effects on the Lab’s research and its people. First and foremost, we want to reiterate how much we value the contributions of our colleagues and collaborators from all backgrounds and national origins. A diverse international research environment is a critical component of our scientific excellence. We know that the news of these changes can cause disruption and fear. Although a great deal of uncertainty surrounds each of these announcements, we want to provide you with the best information we have to help you manage the anxiety that announcements such as today’s cause. Here is what we know today.
Yesterday’s proclamation is a follow up to the April 22, 2020 Presidential Proclamation, which initially focused on the suspension of new immigrant (aka green cards) entries into the U.S. Effective tomorrow, June 24, 2020, the new proclamation suspends the issuance to non-U.S. citizens of nonimmigrant H-1B or H-2B visas; J visas for teachers, interns, and trainers among others participating in a work program (but does not apply to J-1 visa holders in the Short Term Scholar and Research Scholar category); and the L visa. This applies to those who are outside of the United States on or after the effective date of the proclamation and who do not have a nonimmigrant visa or official travel documents by the effective date. The proclamation remains in effect through December 31, 2020, and may be renewed.
In addition, a separate May 29 proclamation suspended entry into the U.S. of certain Chinese citizens with ties to entities in China, such as universities that support the Chinese military. The May 29 proclamation applies to Chinese citizens who wish to enter the U.S. with a nonimmigrant F-1 Academic Student or nonimmigrant J-1 Exchange Visitor visa.
Under the May 29 proclamation, the federal government has 60 days to determine if additional measures will be included, and we await details on what this might mean for the Lab.
It’s important to remember that it is difficult to predict the eventual implementation procedures from the language of the original proclamation. We are tracking each of these orders to understand their potential effects and will be ready to help our colleagues navigate the requirements of these orders as they are implemented. Many of the details related to the implementation of yesterday’s order are not yet available.
The significant anxieties these changes bring are in addition to the stresses we are all feeling from the unusual circumstances, related to the ongoing pandemic and societal change, in which we find ourselves. We share your concerns, and we are working to learn more as quickly as possible. Our International Researchers and Scholars Office (IRSO), in collaboration with our immigration counsel, is evaluating the potential impacts of these proclamations on the Berkeley Lab community.
We will provide additional information as we learn more. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments in general about these issues, please reach out to IRSO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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