Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Entry of Immigrants

Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Entry of Immigrants

20:42 23 April in News Updates

Presidential Proclamation Temporarily Suspending Entry on Immigrant Visas for 60 Days

Following a Tweet late Monday night indicating he would temporarily suspend immigration into the United States, on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 President Trump issued an Executive Order:  Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak.

The proclamation will become effective on Thursday, April 23,2020 at 11:59 PM EDT and will be in effect for 60 days, until June 22, 2020 at 11:59 PM EDT.  Within 50 days,the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor shall recommend whether the President should continue or modify the proclamation.

Who Does the Order Affect?

Immigrant Visas (Permanent residency/ green card process)

The proclamation suspends the entry to the United states of individuals on immigrant visas for a period of 60 days.  It applies only to individuals processing immigrant visas at U.S. consulates abroad, and also exempts a number of categories of immigrant visas – see below.  

This order does not restrict the ability to file immigrant applications with USCIS, and will only impact entry and visa issuance of the affected immigrants.   That is, the order does not impact applications for I-485 adjustment of status with USCIS in the United States, nor any steps in the green card process such as the PERM labor certification and I-140 immigrant petition filings.

Nonimmigrant visas (temporary visas)

At this time, the proclamation has no impact on any nonimmigrant visa classifications (H-1B, E-1/2, L-1, O-1, TN, etc.).  However, the order does contain a provision which states:

Sec6.  Additional Measures.  Within 30 days of the effective date of this proclamation, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall review nonimmigrant programs and shall recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.

Therefore, it is possible additional requirements related to non-immigrant visas will be implemented.   We will continue to monitor and advise as additional information becomes available.

Who Does the Order Exempt?

The proclamation does NOT apply to:

  • Individuals who have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date (April 23, 2020);
  • Individuals who have an official travel document other than a visa (e.g. transportation letter, advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date or permits the individual to travel to the US to seek admission;
  • Lawful permanent residents of the US;
  • Individuals applying for visas or entry to the US as a physician, nurse, healthcare professional, or other individuals performing medical research or other essential work to combat the spread of COVID-19, or the spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of such individuals;
  • Individuals applying for visas under the EB-5 Investor program;
  • Spouses of US citizens;
  • Minor (under age 21) children of US citizens or prospective adoptees of US citizens;
  • Individuals whose entry would further US law enforcement objectives based on a recommendation of the Attorney General or whose entry would be in the national interest;
  • Members of the US Armed Forces, and their spouse and/or children; and certain special immigrants.

The consular officer, Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security shall be responsible for determining, in their discretion, whether an individual has sufficiently demonstrated their eligibility for one of the exceptions above. This proclamation does not limit the ability for individuals to seek asylum, refugee status, withholding of removal or protection under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Nonimmigrant Visas

The order does not restrict the issuance of nonimmigrant visas, such as E-2 or L-1 visas, or the ability to enter the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas.  However, it does indicate that we should expect an update on nonimmigrant visas within 30 days.

Note that because U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide are currently closed for nonemergency services due to COVID-19, the realistic impact of the order at this time is minimal.

SUMMARY OF CURRENT IMMIGRATION OPERATIONS

Routine visa services at all U.S. embassies and consular posts around the world have been suspended as of March 20, 2020. U.S. embassies and consulates continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services as resources allow. The Department of State (DOS) intends to continue to process visa applications for farm workers and medical professionals assisting with COVID-19.

* U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has temporarily suspended in-person services through at least May 3, 2020, including in-person interviews and biometrics processing. USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public and will provide emergency services for limited in-person situations.

* The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed for non-essential travel until at least May 20, 2020.   Essential travel includes:

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States

Individuals traveling for medical purposes

Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions

Individuals traveling to work in the United States

Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes

Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade

Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces returning to the United States

Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations

* With some exceptions, the entry of individuals who were present in China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the U.K., and Ireland, during the 14-day period before their attempted entry into the United States has also been suspended.

* Despite these limitations, USCIS continues to accept and process applications and petitions, including applications requesting an extension or change of status.

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Message from the Team at LAC:

In the hours since the Tweet was posted, we heard from hundreds of clients concerned about the economy, and specifically about the economic ramifications a complete shutdown of immigration processes within the United States would have.  Some of you pointed out that 1 of 4 physicians in the U.S. are foreign born.  Others stressed the importance of ongoing collaborative research between scientists of all nationalities.  Many expressed concern that your businesses are hanging on based on your ability to retain your key employees, regardless of country of birth.  Fortunately, while the Tweet raised considerable alarm, the proclamation in fact applies only to immigrant visas for those processing abroad, and contains a number of exceptions.

We understand that health concerns, economic stresses, and personal challenges are combining for all to create considerable anxiety in what is already a stressful process.  The attorneys at LAC remain available to assist with your questions and ensure compliance in the common goal of getting each other and the economy back to a place of good health.

Stay well.

From All of Us at LAC

This update was prepared by Michelle N. Harmon, Attorney, Larrabee Albi Coker LLP.
Legal Disclaimer:   This e-blast is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter.  Immigration laws and policies change frequently, often without notice.  It is therefore important to seek direct legal counsel based upon individual circumstances.

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