2020 was a rollercoaster of news for the J1 visa. From its suspension in April 2020 to its partial reinstatement in September, the J1 visa seemed to have an uncertain fate for the foreseeable future. Fortunately 2021 has given the J1 visa new life! Find out what the April 2021 J1 announcement means for you by reading below...
Throughout 2020, the world was greeted with unpleasant information following unpleasant information. From the very first day of the pandemic, it seemed that nothing could top the last piece of bad news, until it did! This is especially true for those in the hospitality industry. Through governmental restrictions blocking guest movement and business activity, many hotels and restaurants were forced to adapt or risk disappearing entirely.
As if this was not bad enough, those wanting to enhance their career through training in the USA no longer could, as the previous presidential administration blocked their path to the J1 visa. Fortunately, 2021 has brought us a light at the end of this dark tunnel! In this article, I will be running through the previous issues the J1 has faced in 2020 and what the most recent J1 news of April 2021 means for you!
Read below to read about the previous presidential proclamation or scroll to the bottom to find out the latest news on the J1 as of March 31st 2021!
The Presidential Proclamation
As COVID 19 had ravaged through the USA during its peak within the start of the year of 2020, There was a severe downturn in the US economy due, in part, to the heavy movement restrictions placed by the US government to combat the virus. This drop in the economy caused a huge rise in unemployment figures all across the country.
Despite the fact that this economic decline was largely perpetuated by the government restrictions themselves, the Trump administration opted to restrict non-immigrant visas in order to curb the unemployment figures. This decision was largely based on the perception that such visas lead to higher unemployment rates among American citizens (despite multiple research studies proving otherwise)
One of those affected was, unfortunately, the J1 visa- pausing the professional dreams of many young hospitalians across the world who wished to complete their internship in a US luxury hotel.
Predictably, this proclamation was met with fierce opposition from both inside and outside the country, with many rallying behind the cry of “save the J1 visa” or similar sentiments. As of the 2nd of October, this cry had been answered...
Leading the charge against the Proclamation were some of the powerful organisations whose business had seen huge downfalls due to the Proclamation, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, TechNet and Intrax. Together, these influential organizations challenged the decision through a federal hearing on September 11th.
During the hearing, it was cited by the plaintiffs that the proclamation was, at its essence, a huge overreach of power- as it appeared that the Trump administration had placed restrictions on these non immigrant visas before finding any real proof that these types of visa were actually a threat to the American worker.
After less than a month of deliberation, the court announced their decision: A preliminary injunction against the June presidential proclamation. This allowed workers represented by any and all of the plaintiffs in the hearing to once again apply, obtain, and train under the J1 visa!
How did the 2020 injunction affect the J1 visa?
At the time, this was extremely good news for the J1 visa and anyone wanting to go to the USA before the year ended. While the injunction only applied to workers represented by the plaintiffs in the hearing, the plaintiffs are huge in their scope, and many of the subsidiaries were visa sponsors and partners of Placement International.
The injunction allowed Placement International to begin the visa process for many of our candidates and even paved the way for the first visa granted in 2021!
However, while this was indeed a much-needed development for international trainees everywhere, all was not sunshine and rainbows for the J1 visa. Even as many of our participants were now exempt from the presidential proclamation, it did not make the effects disappear entirely. Embassies continued to work at a much slower pace than what many had hoped for, leaving many participants waiting a long period of time for their visa appointment to arrive. This was compounded by the fact that then-president Trump extended his proclamation until the end of March 31st 2021.
Essentially, the injunction of 2020 gave many J1 participants the opportunity to continue their visa process, but the ambiguity of the situation meant the wheels of the embassies were still moving slow.
What is happening to the J1 visa in 2021
2020 was a rollercoaster of emotions for those wanting to move their skills and talents to the USA. Fortunately it would seem that 2021 will be bringing us some better news. As the November 2020 election brought a new administration to the white house, it seems the winds of changes have finally reached the J1 visa!
As of February 24th 2021, Joe Biden revoked many articles of the aforementioned proclamation, stating that "the unrestricted entry into the United States of persons described in section 1 of Proclamation 10014 is not detrimental to the interests of the United States." While this mandate marked the start of a more inclusive and tolerant era, the J1 visa block was still in-place.
On April 1st 2021, the moment that Placement International and all J1 visa supporters were so eagerly awaiting arrived ! It was made official that the proclamation had expired, and U.S. embassies and consulates globally would not only allow for any J1 visa applicants who were refused due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 to reapply, but would also prioritize any visa applications falling in the affected categories.
What does this mean for the J1 visa in 2021?
After our previous announcement (regarding the 2020 injunction against the first proclamation) There was still a large amount of uncertainty with the J1 visa, as the proclamation hadn't been fully revoked.
This is no longer the case.
In the coming days/weeks, we are expecting US embassies across the world to resume (close to) normal functions as the last barrier to the J1 visa has finally been knocked down.
While this is amazing news, it hasn't solved the entire problem. The COVID-19 crisis has not ended in the USA (or globally) and as such, travel restrictions have not changed with the J1 restrictions. While we expect and hope that the new administration will continue to continue in the direction of normalising travel, the future is still uncertain at this point.
All in all, while this news does not mean the USA has completely opened its doors for J1 candidates, the process of obtaining a J1 visa is easier than it has ever been since April 2020!
Excited about this news? We sure are! Apply to our programs today by following this link. You could be part of newest generation of J1's entering the hospitality industry of the USA in 2021