On June 22, President Trump signed an executive order suspending entry into the U.S. by foreign nationals through several nonimmigrant work visa programs, including H-1B, J and L visas, effective June 24.

The proclamation does not address F-1 OPT (Optional Practical Training) or STEM OPT benefits. The full proclamation is available here.

The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations (those that require the application of specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience). Many international scholars at Lehigh are on H-1B visas. The visa suspension will apply to any newly hired H-1B scholar who is overseas and did not secure a visa by the effective date of the proclamation. Current Lehigh faculty and staff on H-1B visas who are physically in the United States are exempted from the proclamation.

The J non-immigrant visa category allows foreign nationals to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs. J-1 visa holders at Lehigh include visiting international scholars and international exchange students. The proclamation applies to foreign nationals seeking to use the J-1 visa to participate “in an intern, trainee, teacher, camp counselor, au pair, or summer work travel program.” It does not apply to J-1 visa holders coming to the U.S. as college students, professors or research scholars.

The language of the proclamation is ambiguous, especially as it relates to J visa holders. The restrictions may affect Lehigh programs like internships and summer work programs. The Office of International Students and Scholars will try to clarify this ambiguity.

The staff in the Office of International Students and Scholars will also conduct an audit of immigration files to assess potential impact on our international community of scholars holding H-1B visas. Anyone who may appear to be at risk will be notified immediately.

We will be communicating the details of the proclamation to current and future students and scholars. A zoom call will also be scheduled in the coming days to answer questions and address concerns.