What You Need to Know about the President’s Recent Proclamation Temporarily Suspending the Entry of Immigrants into the U.S.
There has been much speculation since President Trump’s late-night tweet on Monday that he would be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States. It had been rumored that the President’s order would temporarily bar the issuance of new green cards and temporary work visas and that he would stop approving applications by and on behalf of foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. After the President’s long-awaited announcement last night, we now know the reach of his Proclamation falls short of what was speculated.
Through Proclamation that is effective Thursday April 23rd at 11:59 pm EST, the President is temporarily suspending for an initial period of 60 days the ability of any individual who seeks to enter the U.S. as an immigrant who:
- Is outside the U.S. on the effective date of the Proclamation;
- The Proclamation only applies to individuals who are applying for an immigrant visa through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate – an immigrant visa is an application for U.S permanent resident status that is processed abroad through a U.S. Consulate and where the individual becomes a U.S. permanent resident upon entry and admission to the U.S.
- The Proclamation does not suspend the admission of individuals seeking entry under a previously issued and valid temporary (“nonimmigrant”) visa or individuals who are applying for U.S. permanent resident status in the U.S. through the Adjustment of Status process.
- Is not in possession of a valid immigrant visa on the effective date of the Proclamation; and
- Individuals who have attended an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate and are awaiting visa stamping will be affected.
- Is not otherwise in possession of an official travel document (such as a transportation letter, boarding foil or advance parole travel document) that is valid on the effective of the Proclamation or issued thereafter that permits travel to the U.S. to seek entry for admission.
- The Proclamation does not apply to individuals who have pending Adjustment of Status applications with the USCIS and are in possession of an advance parole travel document or valid H-1B, L-1, H-4 or L-2 visa. However, all individuals with pending Adjustment of Status applications should consult with their immigration counsel before undertaking international travel, as there may be other factors that could impede or prevent their readmission to the U.S.
This Proclamation does not apply to the following individuals:
- U.S. Lawful permanent residents (LPR);
- Physicians, nurses, or other healthcare professionals (as well as their accompanying spouses and children under 21) who are entering as immigrants to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19, or to perform essential work to combat COVID-19, alleviate the effects of COVID-19 outbreak or aid in recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or their respective designees);
- EB -5 Immigrant Investor Visa applicants;
- Spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens;
- Children under 21 who are prospective adoptees seeking to enter on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa;
- Individuals who would further important U.S. law enforcement objectives (as determined by the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security (DHS), based on the recommendation of the Attorney General (AG), or their respective designees);
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children;
- Individuals (and their spouses or children) eligible for Special Immigrant Visas as an Afghan or Iraqi translator/interpreter or U.S. Government Employee (SI or SQ classification); and
- Individuals whose entry would be in the national interest (as determined by the Secretaries of State and DHS, or their respective designees).
An important provision of this Proclamation is that within 30 days of its effective date, the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, will review the existing nonimmigrant visa programs and recommend to the President other measures appropriate to stimulate the U.S economy and “ensure the prioritization, hiring and employment of U.S. workers.” The Proclamation also states that within 50 days from its effective date the President may extend the suspension of immigrant visas beyond the current 60-day period.
In short, the immediate impact is that persons hoping to immigrate to the U.S. from abroad could face further delays — particularly considering that all routine immigrant visa services have been suspended by the Department of State since March 20, 2020. It will also likely have the ripple effect of increasing the overall processing times that individuals will face when applying for their immigrant visas. Unfortunately, the biggest wildcards will be how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve and how fast the U.S. and the global community at large can implement sufficient measures to safely reopen businesses and international travel.